Does a parent’s finances impact child custody cases?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2022 | Child Custody |

Child custody battles can be time-consuming and expensive in Manchester, New Hampshire. The average legal fees are between $1,200 and $4,500 and increase with lengthy cases. A parent may make less than their spouse, but income is only one factor in the courtroom.

Income and child custody

Child custody often ends up in the courts, but separate incomes aren’t the sole factors for decision-making. The courts always put the child’s best interests first when making their decision. Many states look at the stability of both parents and any drug and alcohol use. The courts look at the mental and physical health of both parents. Who’s the primary caregiver and who the child wants to live with factor in too. Along with finances, the court checks where siblings live and the best educational opportunities. Evidence of abuse or neglect is serious during a child custody trial.

Impact of finances

Finances affect the court’s custody decision when looking at the parent’s ability to provide for the child. An unemployed or homeless parent would have a lower chance of custody. If a parent’s unemployed because they were the primary caretaker, the courts could look at their ability to earn instead. Finances can affect child payment decisions, and income plays a different role during child custody cases. A parent without a job could be at a disadvantage in court. If a parent wants to minimize their financial involvement, they might avoid the courts.

Income and child support and spousal support

The courts may consider whether child support should go to the parent with primary responsibility for the child. Many states have various models to determine how much child support to award during a child custody case. The income shares model puts the child’s needs first for funding. The percentage of income model takes a percentage of the noncustodial parent’s income. The Melson formula looks at the child’s and parent’s needs for funding.

A parent asking for custody of one or more children may ask for spousal support with child support. Alimony is court-ordered financial support from the higher-income parent. Alimony depends on the state laws. Some states take earning capacity and standard of living into account. Domestic violence and marriage length are factors as well. Some states only allow spousal support for 50% of the length of their marriage.