Divorce Laws for Children

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A divorce becomes a bit complicated when minor children are involved. It is the responsibility of both parents and the court to keep the children away from the negative effects of divorce. Divorce laws for children are designed as per the requirements and best interests of the children. They ensure that the child gets proper care and financial support even after the parents get separated. Thus, divorce laws protect the children from an insecure future and mental ill-effects after the divorce of the parents.

Certain laws pertaining to child divorce are mentioned below. These laws talk about the provisions on the following topics:

  • Impact of religion(s) of parents on child custody
  • The tax consequences of child support
  • Visitation rights of grandparents

Divorce Laws related to Child Custody

Child custody is one of the crucial matters related to divorce. The custody can be of various types. Two major types are; joint custody and single custody. Child custody issue can be solved by the partners if they mutually agree upon something or it is left to the court, if partners disagree and cannot decide what is best for the children. The court generally takes into account all factors of the case, before taking a decision. The judgment can be different from case to case, depending on the nature of a divorce.

Let us take an example of a separated couple wherein the two members follow varying faiths. Often, the father and the mother do not accede with each other regarding the religion the child should observe. Due to a rise in the interfaith marriages, the number of arguments regarding this topic has increased in the courts.

There is no uniform national law for this issue, but each state has formed its own law. A majority of state courts adhere to the following three standards to settle a dispute pertaining to religion.

Substantial or Actual harm

If the religious practice of any parent results in considerable or actual harm to the child, the court restricts the parenting rights or First Amendment of such a parent.

Risk of harm

If there is a certain possibility that the religious practice of any parent would harm the child in the future, the court can still restrict the parenting rights or First Amendment of such a parent.

Any element of harm

It is the custodial parent's exclusive right to impact the religious upbringing of the child. The court adheres to the desires of the custodial parent in case this parent is against the religious activities of the non custodial parent.

Divorce Laws related to Child Support

Child support order is issued to encourage sharing of the responsibility of the children between parents. Usually, child support is an obligation to the non-custodial parent, which is to be paid as a contribution for the upbringing of the children. There are some tax effects of child support that should be studied before contributing towards child support.

For federal income tax purposes, child support is regarded as a tax free amount. The recipient parent does not owe any tax for receiving this amount. So, does the child. The parent who makes the child support payments cannot mention those as tax deductible payments.

In this manner, child support is very different from spousal support. Spousal support is tax deductible for the spouse who pays and taxable for the spouse who receives it.

When a parent disburses minimum 50 percent of the child support in a tax year, such a parent can claim the child as a dependent. If each parent pays exactly 50 percent of the support amount, the proceedings become very complex. It is essential to read IRS Publication 504 to learn how to deal with this situation.

Divorce Law related to Child Visitation Rights

Child visitation right is the way to maintain a regular and prolonged relation between the child and parent. Apart from the parents, some other individuals related to the child might also wish to have certain rights related to child visitation.

It has been observed that some caretakers, step-parents and grandparents develop considerable attachment with the children. So, if the family is torn apart due to estrangement, divorce or death, there must be some law to ascertain contact of the child with such people.

About twenty states practice 'restrictive visitation statutes.' As per these, if one or both parents have died or are divorcing, then usually only the grandparents can be awarded a court order for visitation.

A majority of states have adopted the 'permissive visitation laws'. As per these, even in the presence of both the parents, the courts can consider the visitation request of the above mentioned persons. The only condition is that such a visitation must serve the best interests of the child.

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