Child Custody and Support

Best Interest of Child Test in Custody Determinations

In deciding custody of a child, a judge or master, must determine what would be in the child’s best interests. This standard is used whether the child is being placed temporarily until a full custody hearing can be held, or in awarding joint or sole custody to a parent, pursuant to a divorce, or whether to place the child with a third party as a result of a custody dispute.

Child Support Modification for Changed Circumstances

Where there is a change in circumstances of the child or of either parent, a modification of the amount of child support may be requested and will be granted where appropriate.

Involuntary Child Custody Proceedings under the Indian Child Welfare Act

When an agency of a state believes that it is the best interests of a child, who could be of Native American descent, to take involuntary custody of the child from his or her parents, the procedures set forth in the Indian Child Welfare Act must be followed. The Act requires notice, a right to intervene in the proceedings by the child’s tribe and Indian custodian, appointment of counsel for an indigent parent or Indian custodian, access to court records, and jurisdictional and trial considerations.

Modification of Custody based on Parental Unfitness

If subsequent to the time a court awarded joint or sole legal custody to a parent, the parent becomes unfit to have custody of the child, a court will not hesitate to modify custody.

Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act

Under the Federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, the home state of a child has jurisdiction to establish custody and visitation of the child. That state court continues to have jurisdiction over custody issues, and all other state courts are required to give full faith and credit to the court orders of the home state.