Family law treats child support and access as two independent sets of issues. Child support, money paid to one’s ex-spouse for the care and maintenance of their child, is determined by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Custody, the legal and physical care and control of a child, is determined by what is the best interest of the child.
While the two concepts differ fundamentally, there are 2 points of convergence where child support can have a bearing on decisions about custody and how parents negotiate for access after a separation.
Failure to honour child support obligations can influence custody decisions
Parents, by law, are financially obligated to provide for their dependent children. After separation, the child support payments are, in part, to ensure that a child’s needs are met, similar to pre-separation standards. Caring for a child can be a costly undertaking, and how a parent approaches child support payments after a separation says a lot about that parent’s sensitivity to the child’s needs and welfare. Withholding child support can indicate that a parent has little or no regard for his or her child’s wellbeing. When settling on custody issues, a presiding judge may ascribe such a behaviour to be contrary to the child’s best interest and deem that parent unfit to have custody.
Child support and the 40% rule
The amount of time a child spends with each parent affects the way child support is determined. According to Section 9 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines, if a child spends at least 40% of the time with each parent, this is considered shared custody. In shared arrangements, a judge can deviate from the Guidelines and reduce the child support amount payable.
The 40% rule and its impact on child support introduce a financial component into negotiations for custody. While some spouses have a genuine claim for a reduction in child support, others unwisely attempt to increase access time and negotiate for shared custody to reduce or eliminate child support. Regardless, courts will only award custody in the child’s best interest.
Do you need a Surrey family lawyer?
The overlapping issues of child support and child custody can be quite complex, difficult to follow, and are best left in the hands of a family lawyer.
If you require a family lawyer to assist with your child support or custody issues, contact us at Highland Law. Our Surrey family lawyers are versed in family law matters, including those related to child support and custody. Our team can help you understand the issues, plot a course of action and provide expert representation if and when that time comes.
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