I still remember my accident like it was yesterday. One minute I was driving my daughter to school and the next I was waking up in a hospital bed. It was frustrating to deal with the emotional trauma of forgetting an entire week of my life, in addition to stressing about my small child. Fortunately, we were both able to recover, but it wasn't easy walking dealing with the medical bills that accompanied the accident. I found myself struggling with things as simple as answering the phone, because I was nervous about dealing with another insurance adjuster. Fortunately, by working with a lawyer, I was able to make sense of my situation. I know that you can overcome difficult challenges too, which is why I shared my story on this website.
Are you concerned that your children may affect your custody agreements? This is a common issue among responsible parents; they worry that their child will choose their less responsible ex-spouse over them and they will then be saddled with child support payments. While it's rather rare that children have a direct influence on child custody, they can have some influence in a few ways.
1. The Child's Preference, If Over a Certain Age
A child's preference will be considered (but not necessarily followed) when they are of a certain age. This age depends on the state; in California, the age is 14. Children can also be called upon as witnesses and asked direct questions about their care when they are with either parent, and this will be given more weight if the child is over a certain age. Children that are younger than 14 can still discuss their preferences in court, but in a more unofficial capacity.
2. If The Child Does Poorly
Child custody arrangements are developed and modified only in the best interests of the child. Thus, if the child fails to thrive on an academic, mental health or physical level, custody arrangements could potentially be modified. Parents with difficult children will immediately see how this could affect them: a stubborn child who wants to be with the other parent need only damage their academic standing (whether consciously or subconsciously) to call into question their responsibility as a child. But it's important to note that proactive care can mitigate this: if a parent responds to poor behavior and other issues immediately and responsibly, the courts will not see it as a negative.
3. When The Child Turns 18
While it may seem to be common sense, this fact is a bit more complicated than it seems. Most individuals assume custody won't matter after the age of 18 because child support itself will be discontinued at that age, but it isn't necessarily true. Child support is discontinued at the age of 18 or at the age the child finishes high school, whichever happens later. So an 18 year old in high school could decide to switch custody and child support would follow.
Judges are intelligent and they can usually tell when an unsuitable parent is being chosen by children simply because they are the fun or easier parent. The keyword is "usually." A parent should still have an attorney like Shipman, Dixon & Livingston Co., L.P.A. to represent them in court, as custody disputes can get quite brutal.