The Legal Insider

May 2016

Top Three Factors a Judge Might Consider Before Deciding Child Support

Top Three Factors a Judge Might Consider Before Deciding Child Support When adults have children, they are legally obligated to financially support the children until the child is an adult. Things get more complicated when the parents are not married or get a divorce because both parents would need to contribute to the upbringing of the child. Every state has a formula for calculating child support and the judge will use these formulas to determine how much child support will be paid.

Parents' Income

The biggest factor that a judge considers when calculating child support is each parents' income. Some judges consider each of the parent's income and other judges consider only the income of the non-custodial parent. The judge will also take into consideration the percentage of time that each parent spends with the child. One of the main concerns of the judge is making sure that the child support payments are fair and proportional to the parent's income.

The judge will also consider the income and needs of the custodial parent. Since the parent that has custody of the child will incur more expenses to take care of the child, if the custodial parent has a lower income, the judge will calculate a larger child custody payment to cover the expenses needed for the non-custodial parent to pay.

Shared Custody and Visitation Time

Another child support guideline that the judge uses to calculate the child support payments is the amount of time the child spends with each parent. The more time that the child spends with the non-custodial parent, the more expenses that the parent will incur during these visits to support the child. In this situation, the amount of child support awarded to the custodial parent will be less than when the custodial parent has full and sole custody of the child with little to no visitation.

The Child's Standard of Living Before Divorce or Separation

Because divorce or separation of parents have a big impact on children, one of the main goals of the court when considering child support is to maintain a normal standard of living for the child. The judge usually wants to avoid any drastic change in the child's life and would set the child support amount to any amount that would provide a stable and unchanging home environment for the child.

No Visitation or Custody by Non-custodial Parent

When determining child support payments, the court does not consider whether or not the paying spouse or parent spends time with the child or not. Even if the non-custodial parent does not want the child in his or her life, the non-custodial parent must still pay child support until the child reaches the age of majority.

In some circumstances and jurisdictions, the judge has full discretion in determining child support. A judge has the discretion to increase the standard child support payment and also has the discretion to decide that the standard child support is excessive for the paying parent.

What Are the Top 4 Immigration Forms?

What Are the Top 4 Immigration Forms?

Green Card Application

A green card document allows individuals to reside legally in the United States for a set period of time. Because there are a number of ways to be approved for a US green card, the application forms vary quite a bit from each other. A person can get a green card if they are sponsored for employment, for a diversity visa lottery, or to join their family residing in the U.S.

Each of these paths to the green card would require a different kind of form. The United States only offers a specific number of green cards per year to each kind of applicant, so many more people apply each year than can be approved.

Application for Naturalization (Permanent Residency)

A naturalization application is for individuals seeking permanent residency in the United States. Once a person is approved for a permanent residency, they can live and work in the country, travel in and out of the country, and sponsor relatives in the country. This form is called the I-485, Application for Permanent Resident Status, and the filing cost is $985.00

Petitions for Alien Relatives

Other very common immigration forms are requests for family members to join U.S. citizens. Forms I-129F is the Petition for Alien Fiancé (or Fiancée). For someone who is not born in the United States, but wants to come to the U.S. in order to marry someone who is living here as a citizen, this form precedes the process of applying for a visa or a green card. The U.S. citizen can use this form to request entry for the fiancé. If the application is approved, a green card request or application for naturalization is filled out later

The I-130 form is the Petition for Alien Relative. The process is similar to the I-I29F. For $500, a U.S. Citizen can file a petition to request that a foreign-born person join him or her in the United States. This will start the process of immigration for that relative.

Employment Related Immigrant Forms

There are two main forms that are used by employers who want to bring a person from another country to the U.S. for a job offer . The I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, costs $325. The form requests USCIS to approve temporary access to the U.S. for temporary non-citizens to work here. The I-140 is used for more long-term employment prospect requests. Employers will use it to request a green card for a citizen of another country if they want to extend a job offer to that person.

Potential employees can fill out the I-765 form, the Application for Employment Authorization, for $380. If a non-citizen's visa or green card status is in good standing, this form will grant the person legal permission to work in the U.S.

An Overview of Three LGBT Laws

An Overview of Three LGBT Laws In 2015, same-sex marriages were legalized. Since then, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Tennessee have introduced and passed bills that would limit the rights of LGBT individuals. The laws themselves are not directed LGBT individuals, but seem to do so when applied.

North Carolina's House Bill 2

The law prohibits individuals from using a bathroom of a different gender from their one on their birth certificate. The bill seems to focus on punishing sexual predators when they enter the wrong bathroom.

The law, as applied, would punish transgender individuals for using the bathroom or changing room of the gender they identify with. Transgender individuals who underwent a complete physical transition and changed their designated gender on their birth certificate would not be punished under this law.

However, the "bathroom law" is just one aspect of HB 2. The majority of the bills covers important issues of employment and contracting laws for the entire state. Many critics of the bill argue that HB 2 was posed as a bill for employment and wages, but its true purpose was to pass the bathroom law.

Mississippi House Bill 1523

HB 1523 allows public officials to refuse to work with or hire individuals that violates the public official's "sincerely held religious belief." This bill would have wide and far ranging applications. It would allow a manager of a government agency to require female employees to wear skirts and dress. It would allow a religious university to fire single mothers working in the university cafeteria. It would allow a school mental health counselor to refuse to work with a LGBT student.

Tennessee House Bill 1840

HB 1840 gives counselors and therapists the right to refuse to take on clients with "goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist." It also protects individuals who provide counseling or therapy, but are not registered or regulated by the State. In essence, it will protect counselors and therapists from civil and criminal liability if they refuse to accept a patient. However, HB 1840 also requires counselors and therapists to refer the client to another professional who will treat them.

Not Specifically Naming LGBT Individuals Does Not Save a Law

These bills have one thing in common: they do not specifically name or openly target LGBT individuals. HB 1523 and HB 1840 also allows people to discriminate against LGBT individuals based on "sincerely held religious beliefs."

North Carolina's HB 2 can easily target individuals who intend to sexually assault a person in the opposite gender's bathroom. Mississippi's 1523 can allow a public employee to refuse to hire or work with someone who is openly racist. Tennessee's HB 1840 also helps counselors and therapists who refuse to work with sexual offenders or criminals.

Requesting Additional Child Visitation Time

Requesting Additional Child Visitation Time Parents can always request to modify the child visitation schedule before the child becomes an adult. If sole custody is granted to one parent, the non-custodial parent is usually entitled to reasonable visitation rights. These rights give the non-custodial parent the chance to spend time with their child.

Three Tips to Receive Additional Time:

Ask the other parent - If you want to spend additional visitation time, simply ask the other parent for additional time before going through the court. Requesting more time directly from the other parent may show the other parent that you are not complaining about how it will affect the child support, but that you actually want more time with the child. If the other parent agrees upon the new schedule, you can later ask the court to turn the new schedule into an official order. Make sure to keep a copy of all your communications with the other parent for any upcoming hearings.

Make sure it's for the child's best interest - If you want to modify the child visitation schedule, make sure that the nature of the modification is for the best interest of the child. Courts will usually modify a child visitation schedule if it's better for the child's physical, emotional, and development wellbeing. Make sure that you are not asking for additional time for your own personal concerns, but rather for the needs and wellbeing of the child.

Be involved - Show the other parent and the court that you want to be more involved in the child's life. Make sure that you provide information on how the additional time with the child will benefit the child and not yourself. Prove to the court that you want to be an equal parent in all aspects. When the other parent and the court sees that you want to be involved in the child's life more and that you are reliable, they may agree to give you additional visitation time.

Three Things to Avoid:

Disrupt the child's normal schedule and routine - As discussed, the best way to request additional visitation time with your child is making sure that the additional time is for the best interest of the child and not for your own personal satisfaction. Try to avoid requesting additional time if the added time will disrupt the child's normal routine, daily activity, or school.

Not go through the court - Both parents must agree to all child visitation modifications. In order to modify the current visitation order in place, the request must also go through the court. Just because you want more time, does not give rise to a modification. You must file a request for Order Modification and all parties involved must consent to the additional time requested. Failure to notify the court may lead to serious consequences.

Stop paying child support - It is never a good idea to stop paying child support payments. Avoiding obligation to pay child support may backfire and result in having less or even no visitation rights. Visitation orders and child support payment orders are treated differently and separately. In addition, the judge may rule against you when you are requesting additional child visitation time if you have been withholding your child support payment obligations.