Child Support Custody Paternity

Our Family Services

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So … Children:

We recognize that issues affecting your children are not only a priority but can also be very emotionally charged.  There are several reasons a parent needs to involve outside help when it comes to the support and care of children.  Paternity, custody, child support … Some of these require court intervention.  Some just downright need a judge or mediator to step in to save your sanity and harmony.  Even though emotions can be high, remember that your children’s best interest is priority.  It is our job to make this as easy as possible for you while also making sure you know your rights.

What is Adoption?
Adoption is the process of legally becoming the parent of a child, or sometimes, an adult.

What is Guardianship?
A Guardianship is different than an adoption. A guardian does not become a legal parent, but they do become the person or persons who can legally make decisions for the “ward” who can be a child or an adult.

 

We recognize that issues affecting your children are not only a priority but can also be very emotionally charged. There are a lot of misunderstandings and frustrations when it comes to the support and care of children. It is our job to make this as easy as possible for you, while making sure you know your rights.

 

What are some facts and myths about children, co-parenting and courts?

If my name is on the birth certificate, then I am legally the father.

False. If you are not married to the mother when the child is born, you are not considered the legal father even if your name is on the birth certificate. In order to get rights for visitation and more, you must petition the court to establish your paternity.

I'm the mom, so I automatically get custody.

False. There are no gender preferences in custody. This is not the 1950s. The standard for who get custody is “best interest of the child.” Arkansas defaults to a joint custody arrangement if both parents are fit and capable of providing care.

Can I share custody with my co-parent without a court order?

Yes. You can have a parenting agreement without a judge’s order. However, you need to be aware that if anything happens and you to enforce the custody agreement, it’s much more difficult if you don’t have something already in the legal system. You can make an agreement and ask to file it with the court to safeguard against future problems.

What are the different types of custody arrangements?

  • Joint legal custody – parents share decision making responsibility for the child/children.
  • Joint physical custody – generally, this means the parents share equal physical time the child/children.
  • Sole custody – one parent has full physical custody and full responsibility for making decisions for the child/children. The other parent will have visitation rights.

I have to pay 50% of my paycheck in child support?

How much you pay in child support depends on several factors:

  1. Number of children
  2. Net take home pay (This is a court calculation NOT the net pay of your actual paycheck)
  3. Custody Arrangement

If my co-parent doesn't pay child support, then I can withhold visitation.

False. These two things do not go together. I f you have a court document that makes one person pay child support and he/she is not paying, you have to take them to court. You don’t have the right to keep the child/children from them until they pay.

Are Adoptions and Guardianships in family court?

Your Adoptions and Guardianships are not handled in family law court. They are handled in the same courts that deal with wills. There are long-term effects that make this a different animal than most people think. 

When is adoption used?

There are several situations when adoption is appropriate:

  1. When you get married, your new spouse may wish to adopt your child to provide benefits, name, etc.  This can happen either before or after the child turns 18.  It is possible to make that change when the child becomes an adult and is (maybe) out of your house.
  2. If a tragedy happens, a grandparent may be the best person to adopt the child.

Is an adoption temporary?

No. Adoptions truly mean that you are the parent forever.  Just like if you had the child at birth.

How is a guardianship different than an adoption?

A guardianship has similar responsibilities but is a totally different animal.  Instead of being the parent, you are responsible for the “ward” and are accountable to the court.

When is a guardianship used?

Common situations to use are:

  1. A child with a disability turning 18 years old
  2. An adult with a disability who needs someone to make decisions regarding healthcare, living, expenses.
  3. A relative needing to take care of a child for an extended period of time.

Is it easy to become a guardian?

Becoming a guardian is a bit more complex than an adoption and has a long-term involvement with the court system.

Is a guardianship permanent?

It can be, but it also can be terminated once a child reaches 18, the parent of the child gets sober, etc.

Can I adopt or become a guardian without having to tell any family members?

No. Biological parents have to be “notified” in both legal situations – even if they’re not involved with the child.

Do I need a lawyer to get an adoption or guardianship?

There is really no requirement to hire an attorney, but there is a reason lawyers go to school to study the law.  When looking at adoptions and guardianships (especially guardianships), there are many legal hurdles involved.  Guardianships also require annual reporting, sometimes bonds and more that an attorney, like us, can help you navigate.

Why should you hire us?

Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the best approach for your situation. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to situations with children. Whether it is a custody agreement, paternity action, adoption, or guardianship, we are here to provide you with a real, affordable legal option.

 

 

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