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New proposed laws in New York could affect child custody decision

When it comes to spouses getting a divorce when there are children involved, which parent gets custody of the children as well as how much child support is disbursed are two of the most important aspects to most parents and are often a contentious issue. New proposed legislation could directly affect and fundamentally change how child custody cases are currently being decided in divorces. New York, as well as 20 other states, are currently considering these new legislative bills.

A great deal of the proposed legislation would affect how judges actually decide the outcomes of divorce cases. In the past, it was common protocol for a judge to evaluate each case, based on each party's individual circumstances. In the future, if the legislation passes, judges will be strongly persuaded to create custody arrangements that are split down the middle, with each parent having equal custody rights. In the state of New York, judges would be mandated to do so. If it is proven that the child in question would be better served by not spending equal time with each of his or her parents, then a different arrangement can be proposed.

The other major part of the new legislation concerns reforming the child support process. Under current practice, child support is calculated by imputed income, which is the amount of income a person is estimated to earn. However, given that it is harder for people to find jobs these days, many reform advocates consider this way of computing child support as not realistic and unfair. The federal government is considering a new practice of calculating child support: using actual income instead, as well as evaluating whether the non-custodial parent has enough income to support his or herself.

Going through a divorce in New York can be very stressful, especially when the issue of child custody is present. Many aren't sure how to proceed and might wonder what their legal rights are. Family and well-meaning friends might offer words of wisdom in times of trouble, but there is no substitute for the presence of an experienced family attorney who is familiar with handling divorces and can best assist a person going through the divorce in explaining the options available to them and in representing their best interests.

Source: Forbes, "How Will Proposed Changes In Custody Laws Affect Divorcing Women Financially?", Jeff Landers, May 7, 2015

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