Custodial Parent in Divorce

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Different Challenges faced by a Custodial Parent in Divorce

Divorce is a legal issue that puts an end to a marital relationship. Every divorce case is different from the other since the issues faced by the spouses are also different. When married partners without any children file for a divorce, the case becomes less-complicated. But when children are involved, a lot of things are considered before, during and after the divorce. For example, who will take the child custody, who will pay for the child support, what the visitation rights are and what the visitation schedule will be. These are some common questions, besides lot of complex factors has to be considered by the custodial parent in a divorce. Studies show that more than 83% of the custodial parents are mothers and 79% of them are luckily employed.

It is to be mentioned here that the parent with whom the child usually resides with and who makes the legal decisions pertaining to the child is termed as the 'custodial parent.' The custodial parent has to shoulder all the responsibilities of the child, although in most of the cases, the non-custodial parent has to pay a certain amount for child support as specified in the court orders.

Money is not everything and money cannot buy everything. Although the non-custodial parent pays for child support, it is the custodial parent who takes care of the child, supports the child emotionally, helps him/ her in his/ her studies, etc. In a word, the custodial parent selflessly contributes towards the all-round development of his/ her children. In a pursuit to do so, he/ she face many obstacles that are listed here.

Challenges faced by the Custodial Parent in Divorce

  • he custodial parent is burdened with the sole responsibility of bringing up the children. The welfare and security of the children is completely dependent on the decisions made by this parent.

  • Generally, child support payments are not adequate in the present world that is marked by inflation. Consequently, the custodial parent must obtain employment, if he/she lacks one. In order to get a job, this parent may have to undergo education and/or training. It follows that the parent has to arrange for these expenses when his/her standard of living has been reduced.

  • From the above two points, it is clear that the custodial parent has to manage several issues as follows:
    • A full-time job
    • Cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing for the children
    • Accompanying the children to school, the doctor, the baby-sitter etc

    Due to this multitude of works, this parent finds very scant time and energy for himself/herself

  • A custodial parent has to discipline the children with nobody to endorse these efforts. It has been observed that some custodial parents are upset by the divorce to such an extent that their capacity to play the role of an efficient disciplinarian is hampered. Moreover, the children are going through or have gone through an emotional turmoil. This makes it difficult to inculcate discipline in them.

  • The custodial parent may be seen as a strict disciplinarian by the child/ children. It is because the non-custodial parent will visit the child/ children often and the purpose of this visitation is to spend some quality time with the kid. This may include some fun-gaming or outings and picnics, which will be entertaining and exciting for the kid. Gradually the kid may develop an idea that the custodial parent is a strict individual who is unable to cater to his/ her needs. This feeling may act against the custodial parent.

  • It is a fact that married friends of the divorced couples generally avoid them after divorce. The reason being married friends fear that their own marriage might proceed to a divorce. They are not sure how to respond to the divorced couple.

  • If the custodial parent is a female, she feels that her children are a hurdle to an active social life. Some mothers develop a guilt feeling when they leave their children and go for a date.

Custodial Parent in Divorce must fill the FAFSA

FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid

It is the responsibility of the custodial parent to fill the FAFSA. For reasons of FAFSA, the parent with whom the child has resided for the maximum duration during the past twelve months is termed as the custodial parent. This 12 month period is not the previous calendar year but the 12 months duration that ends on the date of application of the FAFSA. It must be kept in mind that this parent is not essentially the one who has legal custody.

Let us consider a case that the child has resided with both parents for an equal time during the previous 12 months. Then, the parent, who disbursed maximum financial support to the child during the previous 12 months, is expected to fill the FAFSA.

All the above rules have been included in the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 USC 1087oo(f)(1), Section 475(f)(1).

The way a custodial parent shoulders his/ her responsibilities while facing a number of problems is really commendable. Such parents may participate in counseling sessions that will help them solve these issues in a logical way. Such parents should also take time for himself/ herself so that he/ she can enjoy his/ her freedom and do things that appeal most to them.

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