Category: child support

Who’s Your Daddy? Maybe Not Who You Think.

Who’s Your Daddy? Maybe Not Who You Think.

The answer to the question of who is a child’s father may not be as easy to answer as you think from a legal perspective.  (Is anything?)  The answer may be different depending on the situation.  For example, notorious breaker of the internet Kim Kardashian became pregnant with Kanye West’s baby while Kardashian was still married to Kris Humphries.  If this happened in Kentucky, Mr. Humphries would be the presumed father of the child because he and Kardashian were still married when the child was conceived.

Kentucky statute states:  A child born during lawful wedlock, or within ten (10) months thereafter, is presumed to be the child of the husband and wife. However, a child born out of wedlock includes a child born to a married woman by a man other than her husband where evidence shows that the marital relationship between the husband and wife ceased ten (10) months prior to the birth of the child.

The Kardashian/Humphries/West situation actually comes up with some frequency.  Many times a wife will have an affair and get pregnant by a man other than her husband.  Since the presumption is that the child is one of the marriage, it is incumbent upon the husband, especially in a divorce case, to make sure that the child is his.  If he fails to do that and the child forms a bond with the husband, a court may actually refuse to allow the man to disavow paternity of the child.  I have been involved with cases where the child ranged in ages from eight to fifteen where the court refused to allow a man who had always been a part of the child’s life as the child’s father to then abandon the child on the basis of no biological connection.  Nevertheless, if there is a suspicion that a child of a marriage may not be the husband’s that issue must be raised in the divorce in order for there to even be a hope of avoiding a finding of paternity.  If it is not raised during the initial divorce proceeding, it will most likely be waived absent discovery of new evidence that was not available during the divorce for some reason.

A putative father may initiate an action to establish paternity.  A putative father is a man who believes he may have impregnated a woman, regardless of whether the man is the woman’s husband.  If a putative father does not initiate an action to establish paternity, he has no legal rights to a child.  An action to establish paternity may also be initiated by the mother or even the Commonwealth of Kentucky through the division of child support.  Once paternity is established, he may be required to pay child support, other expenses, and be entitled to visitation with the child.

If you have more questions about paternity issues in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, seek advice of counsel as soon as possible.

Photo courtesy of Drew XXX

The Divorce is Over. Now What?

The Divorce is Over. Now What?

The divorce is over and the dust has settled.  The court has said that you are no longer husband and
wife.  Now what do you do?  The time has come to notify other necessary people that you are divorced and take steps to change your official records and important papers.  Below is a list of some of the issues you need to deal with and people you need to notify.

  • Your Employer:  Make sure your employment records reflect your new single status.  This will require you to change your wage deductions, beneficiaries and possibly other withholdings.
  • Retirement Benefits:  This may fall under contacting your employer, but if you received a share of your spouse’s retirement, make sure you also received a copy of the qualified domestic relations order and contact the plan administrator to make sure they have everything they need to get you the benefits you were awarded.
  • Banks & Investments:  Notify banks, investment clubs, credit unions, etc. of your new single status and make sure your spouse’s name is removed from any accounts you received.  Destroy all old checks from any joint accounts.
  • Insurance:  Again change your beneficiaries.  If you are no longer required to carry certain family members on your policy, contact your company and have them dropped.  If you were covered under your ex-spouse’s employer’s plan, contact the employer immediately about COBRA benefits if you have not made other arrangements for health insurance.
  • Taxes:  Contact your tax professional to discuss your new tax status and what you need to do to prepare for the next tax season.
  • Credit Cards:  Destroy all joint cards and close the accounts or have them transferred to your name alone (or your ex’s if he/she was ordered to pay the debt).  Verify your ending balances.
  • Important Documents:  Review all deeds, titles, and other documents of ownership to make sure property is placed in the name of the person who received it in the divorce.
  • Will/Estate plan:  Review your estate plan and modify your beneficiaries and testamentary gifts accordingly.
  • Power of Attorney:  If your ex spouse had power of attorney over you, revoke it and have a new one prepared.
  • Name Change:  If you changed your name as part of your divorce, you need to have it changed on your driver’s license, the Social Security Administration, and your financial institutions.
  • Social Security Benefits:  If you were married for ten (10) years or more, you have the right upon retirement to claim the higher of your benefits or your ex-spouse’s level of benefits.  Keep a copy of your marriage license and divorce decree to show the Social Security Administration when you qualify to file.
  • Child Support:  If you are receiving or paying child support contact your local child support office to make sure they have your contact information and a case open on you.  This will ensure that you receive proper credit if you are paying or provide a way to prove that you have not received support you are owed.  If there is a substantial change in your or your ex-spouse’s financial condition, you may be eligible for a child support modification at any time after the divorce.

Finally, always keep a copy of your divorce papers in a secure location that you can readily access.  While this list is not an exhaustive list of post-divorce action steps, it will cover most issues that will or could arise after your divorce.  For more detailed information, contact your family law professional.

Photo courtesy of CollegeDegrees360

What Do I Do When My Child Does Not Want to Visit the Other Parent?

What Do I Do When My Child Does Not Want to Visit the Other Parent?

Whether it is entered by the court or agreed upon by the parties, chances are there will be a visitation or timesharing schedule established as part of your child custody case.  This schedule sets out specific times when the child is to be with each parent.  This schedule is part of the divorce decree or child custody order and is enforceable by the court.

If you are the primary residential parent, it is incumbent upon you to encourage the child to go to these visits.  “Encourage” might be too light of a wording, because the court expects you to make the child go.  If you do not, it is not the child who gets punished.  Instead, the other parent can file a motion for contempt; sometimes called a motion for rule to show cause.  We have previously discussed these motions in terms of when one parent refuses to pay child support or bills as ordered in a divorce.  It works much the same way in the realm of child visitation.  One party files a motion with an accompanying affidavit alleging that the other parent is refusing to obey the child visitation order.  If the court determines that is true, the parent disobeying the order can be sanctioned from a “slap on the wrist” and a stern lecture from the judge all the way up to six months in jail.

If you are the primary residential parent and you have a valid concern that the child is seriously endangered by the visitation such as evidence of abuse (and I mean solid evidence not just a suspicion), you can refuse the visitation.  However, you cannot simply take a unilateral action.  You will still need to file a motion to terminate the visitation with the court.  The court will conduct a hearing and if the court does not believe there was a good faith basis to deny the visitation, you could still be held in contempt and/or the other parent will most likely be allowed to make up any time that was missed.  “Crying wolf” and alleging abuse where there is none may also form the foundation for a motion to modify the timesharing and asking the court to designate the other parent as the primary residential parent.

Things get tougher when the child gets older and becomes a teenager.  When the teenager decides she no longer wants to visit and has a life of her own it can make it difficult for the non-residential parent to maintain that relationship.  It still remains the obligation of the primary residential parent to push the child to attend the visitation.  Some judges are more lenient than others, but many judges are loathe to allow a child to begin to decide whether the court’s orders will be followed.  In situations where the residential parent cannot get the child to cooperate, the parent may be left with no choice but to file an action against the child as an out of control teen (also known as a status offender) and ask the court for assistance.  Many parents hesitate to do this for fear of creating a record for the child or even giving the other parent ammunition to take them back to court.

Another point to be aware of is the fact that visitation and child support are two totally separate issues.  If the other parent stops paying child support, that does not give you the right to stop visitations and vice versa.  Courts do not appreciate these sort of “self-help” remedies.

Photo courtesy of DeptfordJon

The Kentucky Child Support Program – Formerly Known as the “Friend of the Court”

The Kentucky Child Support Program – Formerly Known as the “Friend of the Court”

Today’s post is guest-written by Assistant McCracken County Attorney Deanna Wise Henschel. Ms. Henschel is in charge of child support collection in McCracken County, Kentucky.

What is the Child Support Program?

Every county in Kentucky has a local Child Support Office administered by the Kentucky Department for Income Support/Child Support Enforcement.  Each office is managed through the local County Attorney’s Office and an attorney in that office represents the Commonwealth of Kentucky in Court.

The duties of the Child Support Program are to establish paternity for unmarried parents, obtain child support and medical support orders from the Court and enforce and collect child support payments.  The Child Support Program also helps locate noncustodial parents and reviews support orders for possible modification.

Who is eligible for services?

Anyone who has custody of a child and needs help establishing who is the father of the child, establishing a child support order, or collecting current or past-due child support payments is eligible to receive child support services.  You do not have to be the child’s parent to qualify for child support services.

Families who receive public assistance receive child support services automatically. (Child support payments collected for families receiving public assistance go to the state and federal governments as repayment for public assistance.)

Families who do not receive public assistance may apply for child support services by completing an application and interview at the local office.  There are online services available as well.

What child support related services are not provided? 

By law, the Child Support Office cannot address other legal issues that are often associated with paternity and child support.  It is always best for a parent to contact a private attorney for such issues as divorce, property settlements, visitation and custody, spousal support, or for other legal advice.

Will the Child Support Office attorney represent me in court?

No.  The attorney is contracted to provide child support services and to represent the best interests of the children in that county.  The County Attorney representative does not represent either parent in Court.  There are times when a custodial parent does not agree with the course of action chosen by the County Attorney representative.  That parent may close his/her case with the child support office and pursue collection independently or through a private attorney.

My Ex Refuses to Help Pay for Our Child’s Braces!

My Ex Refuses to Help Pay for Our Child’s Braces!

I don’t know what it is about getting divorced or finding oneself in a co-parenting relationship that suddenly grants some people the right to practice orthodontia.  It seems as though they believe that the order for child support doubles as a medical degree of some sort.  You can replace the word “braces” in the title to this post with “surgery,” “glasses/contacts,” “counseling,” “medication,” “therapy,” or pretty much any other word that relates to some form of medical care/treatment provided by someone who by all rights can wear a long white lab coat.  Child support obligors often just do not want to pay their share of these expenses.

We previously discussed what to do if your ex refuses to pay child support and we also briefly touched on what child support would cover.  To expand on that a little, Kentucky Statute makes it clear that in addition to the regular child support, the person paying child support is also responsible for a proportionate share of “extraordinary medical expenses.”  Extraordinary medical expenses is defined as uninsured expenses in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) per child per calendar year.  Extraordinary medical expenses includes but is not limited to the costs that are reasonably necessary for the following services:

  • medical, 
  • surgical, 
  • dental, 
  • orthodontic, 
  • optometric, 
  • nursing, 
  • hospital services,
  • for professional counseling,
  • psychiatric therapy for diagnosed medical disorders, and 
  • drugs and medical supplies, appliances, laboratory, diagnostic, and therapeutic services

Child support obligors have used a number of excuses for refusing to pay these expenses such as claims that braces are cosmetic or that he does not really believe the child has a condition and demands a second opinion.  I cannot say that courts have universally rejected such arguments, but I can say that when there is a medical professional prescribing a certain treatment for a child, the courts I practice in front of come down on the side of following the doctor’s orders.  If, however, the child support obligor goes the extra step of securing a second opinion that contradicts the first medical provider, the court is left to decide based on the court’s determination of who is the more credible medical provider.

If your child is need of medical care, do not feel that you have to carry that entire burden yourself.  Stand up for your rights and those of your child and demand the other parent pays his/her share.  If you have more questions, please contact the Alford Law Office.
Photo courtesy of Monica Y. Garza