LGBT Child Support Lawyer
For LGBT couples in Arkansas going through a divorce, there are challenges that neither spouse believed they would ever need to face – and not the least of those is the question of child custody and payments of child support. The arrangements made for custody of children involved in a divorce have an influence on the amount of child support which will need to be paid after the divorce. In some particularly bad cases, a step-parent could find themselves without rights to a child at all if the child has not been legally adopted by both spouses – particularly if one of the spouses is biologically related to the child. LGBT child support lawyers serving Arkansas know how difficult it is to deal with these questions, and we invite you to contact us to answer any questions you may have.
The state of Arkansas, officially, operates on the idea that it is best for the child if contact with both parents can continue to happen, and it requires both parents to contribute financially to the child by way of child support. However, in the case of LGBT marriage, at most, only one of the spouses is a biological parent of the child. If the child has not been adopted by the other spouse, then legally, only the first may be considered to be a parent. Those found to have no parental rights are not required to pay any child support, but for the step-parent losing access to a child, that is cold comfort, and as LGBT child support lawyers, we frequently encounter step-parents who are perfectly willing to pay child support to enjoy continued contact with the child. For details as they apply to your own situation, contact an LGBT child support attorney today.
Information About Child Support in Arkansas from LGBT Child Support Attorneys
As mentioned, in the state of Arkansas, both parties considered to be parents are required to support their children. As in most states, there are specific rules for determining the amount of child support to be paid by divorced parents. In some cases, separated LGBT parents are able to come to an agreement regarding child support without the help of an LGBT child support lawyer, but these agreements need to meet the state guidelines and must be approved by a court. The reason for this is that the right to support belongs to the child, and not to the parents. An LGBT child support lawyer can help you determine whether your proposed agreement falls within these guidelines and is likely to be approved.
The Supreme Court of Arkansas sets the guidelines for child support that all courts must follow. The state of Arkansas calculates the basic figures for child support by starting with a percentage of the income for the non-custodial parent. Then, certain deductions are allowed. Income is interpreted by the courts in this case rather broadly in order to ensure that the children have access to the broadest range of the available resources. In order to assist the court in calculating this amount, both parents must submit an affidavit of Financial Means to the court. Your LGBT child support attorney can help you prepare these documents.
If you are a parent in an LGBT relationship dealing with a child support determination, then you may wish to refer to Administrative Order number 10. This order determines how a court will calculate the income on the basis of making a child support determination. With the help of your LGBT child support lawyer, you can review the order which currently defines income as any kind of payment, regardless of the source. Common forms of income such as wages, commissions, and earnings from self-employment count, as do pensions, disability payments, and income from investments. This income also includes bonuses, and a portion of any bonuses you receive will be considered by the court. The specific percentages for these calculations can be found in the text of the order or with the help of LGBT child support lawyers.
Deductions which are allowed include any income taxes or withholding for Medicare, social security, medical payments for children, and payments made pursuant to other court orders. Once the net income is determined by removing these deductions, your LGBT child support attorney can help you find the exact amount of child support you will be asked to pay, based upon the number of children that the payments would support. In some cases, the court may request an adjustment, but in most cases, the amount given by the Order’s calculations and these charts will be the amount of child support paid.
Ask an Arkansas LGBT Child Support Lawyer: Health Insurance and Child Support
In general, the court will include medical support in their amounts for child support, if there is health care coverage available at a reasonable price. In general, both parents will share this case, in addition to the cost of uninsured medical bills.
Ask an Arkansas LGBT Child Support Lawyer: Unemployment or Underemployment and Child Support
A parent is not allowed to refuse to work in order to avoid paying child support. In the event of unemployment or underemployment, the court will consider the reasons for this unemployment and may make a ruling on a child support amount up to that person’s earning capacity. If there isn’t evidence of an earning capacity above minimum wage, this is what the courts will use.
Ask an Arkansas LGBT Child Support Attorney: Exceptions
As mentioned, the amounts found by using the Child Support Charts are appropriate and legal amounts, but as LGBT child support lawyers will explain, a judge who finds these amounts are not fair or appropriate to a given situation has the ability to order a different amount. There are different factors which may prompt the court to do this.
First of all, these charts are developed based on a traditional arrangement for custody, in which a non-custodial parent enjoys visitation rights every other weekend, and for several weeks each summer. In the case that the parents have come to a joint custody agreement or decide on extended visitation times for the non-custodial parent, then the amount may change. Again, if a judge does deviate from the guidelines, the reasons must appear in the court record. Your LGBT child support attorney may be able to tell you if your situation is likely to be considered an exception to the child support rules.
Modification or Termination of Custody Orders: Tips from LGBT Child Support Attorneys in Arkansas
A parent who is seeking to modify or terminate a current custody order or child support order needs to be able to show a significant and ongoing material change in their circumstances. In general, the court will assume that a requested modification is appropriate in the case that there is a gain or loss of 20% in the non-custodial parent’s income amount.
In the state of Arkansas, the obligation to pay child support ends when the child is age 18, unless that child is still in high school full-time. In this case, child support continues until age 19 or when the child graduates from high school, whichever occurs first. In the case of disabled children who are not capable of supporting themselves, this obligation may be extended.
Child Custody and LGBT Couples in Arkansas
In addition to issues of child support payments, another important and often emotional issue is the question of child custody by LGBT couples in Arkansas. The rules, like many other laws relating to divorce, are the same as those that apply to every divorcing couple, but they can be somewhat unwieldy for same-sex couples. However, with the assistance of an experienced LGBT child support lawyer, these laws can be explained, and acceptable agreements can often be found.
Anytime a couple is working with custody issues, LGBT child support lawyers will generally always suggest avoiding going to court. Any custody situation is stressful and damaging to the children, but by failing to work out a custody arrangement between yourselves, subjecting the child to a court battle for custody could cause unnecessary additional damage.
Sit down and discuss your situation with your LGBT child support attorneys, and work hard to talk the situation out. If you are able to come to a compromise or an amicable agreement as to the legal and physical custody of the child, visitation arrangements, and child support payments subject to the state guidelines, you can save everyone – including the children – a great deal of distress, and not a small amount of money.
In addition, by working these arrangements out yourself, you may be able to arrive at an agreement that is more beneficial than the court would be in a position to order. Custody arrangements are always difficult, but keep in mind the well-being of the child that you both care about, and with the help of an LGBT child support lawyer, you may be able to settle the matter yourselves and avoid a great deal of turmoil in court.
Whatever your situation with your partner and children, if you are an LGBT individual seeking divorce in a same-sex marriage with children involved, you should speak to an LGBT child support attorney in Arkansas right away.