Generally speaking, custody and support are conducted before separate judges and are considered separate cases. At the same time, custody can affect child support because if one has shared custody, then it affects child support to the extent that the higher earning parent is automatically deemed the non-custodial parent for child support purposes. The other way custody could affect child support is if a parent had some type of significant access time. We usually term that “joint custody,” where if a parent has a child in his or her household 40% to 45% of the time, they are the non-custodial parent and would otherwise pay full child support.
The fact that they have such significant access time can be used as an argument to reduce the level of child support from the full amount. Nevertheless, It’s simply one possible factor amongst many. How much it may reduce support depends on the circumstances of the case as well as both the parties’ incomes. The more visitation that a parent has over and above the average non-custodial parent, the more they can argue that child support should be somewhat reduced. However, simply because it’s one factor to be considered, it doesn’t mean that they will always get that reduction. And it’s also subject to negotiation.
What Is The Process to Modify A Child Custody Or Visitation Agreement?
To ask for a modification to custody or visitation, you would file a petition to modify. Typically, a custody or visitation agreement would have already been incorporated into a court order at some point. If it was never incorporated into an order, then there is no process to modify custody or visitation. If that’s the case, then the only thing a person can do is file a petition to incorporate the agreement into a court order. If you have an enforceable court order, then you can argue that there is a basis for change by filing a petition in family court.
If it’s a divorce case or a post-judgment case, then either party could file an order to show cause and go back before the Supreme Court. If the only issue is custody or visitation, it probably doesn’t make sense to go back in front of the Supreme Court, simply because the family court is better set up to handle the more limited issues of custody and visitation. I would only generally advise to go back to the Supreme Court if there are some intertwined issues. For instance, if the person who is filing the application wants to bring forth not only custody or visitation issues, but some kind of financial issue as well, such as enforcement of some kind of asset or property distribution.
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