Describe how child custody is determined upon dissolution of the parent`s relationship.
Explain how a court determines child support obligations and amounts.
Describe ways that a parent may enforce a child support order if it is not being paid.



The Issues Surrounding Child Custody

Custody battles are legally quite sensitive because the results could have lasting and profound impacts on a child’s wellbeing. In many instances, both parents consider themselves a more suitable caregiver for their child. As a result, many conflicts and complications arise. However, the criminal justice system has designed a process that keeps the child’s best interest at the forefront of any custody battle. An in-depth analysis of determining who gets custody after marriage dissolution, how the court determines child support obligations, and how parents can enforce child support orders when not paid can help show how the criminal justice system has tried to protect children’s well-being through detailed and comprehensive laws.

Child custody has become a complex issue in contemporary society due to changes to the divorce law. Traditional society and regulations only allowed divorce when one spouse was found guilty of committing something worth breaking the marriage, like cheating or excessive drunkenness, and both spouses had to agree to the divorce (Drewianka, 2008). In these cases, parent who was deemed the victim of the marriage violation was given custody of their child. However, after the changes to divorce laws, the issue of child support became complicated because any spouse is now allowed to seek divorce, even without consulting their partners. This is known as unilateral divorce. In many of these cases, the other partner caught off guard and ins’t ready to accept the divorce. Therefore, as they fight through the settlement of the divorce, they simultaneously fight for the child’s custody. In this instance, the court analyzes if a mistake was committed and which type of mistake. After that, the lifestyle of each parent is critically examined to determine which of the parent is fit to raise the child. Depending on the law, an arrangement is made on the days and times the other parent will be allowed to visit and stay with the child or children. However, in case the child is above 18 years old, with a sound mind and reason for making decisions, the child has the power to choose which parent they prefer to stay with (Mnookin, 2014). Therefore, the court ensures that the parent that a child ends up with is more than capable of meeting their needs as children.

In many cases, determining who get custody of the child does not end the conflict, as the amount of support and funds that the principle guardian of the child receives still needs to be decided. In many instances, the amount of support that a parent is given is determined by the gross income the parent earns, minus some key deductions like income taxes, healthcare taxes and expenses, and social security taxes (Mnookin, 2014). There are some expenses that the judge ignores because they are not related to the child’s well-being. The main factors that determine the amount of support are income brackets, medical or dental expenses, the child’s tuition fees, the special needs of the gifted/disabled child, and significant financial obligation for elder care or a disabled family member. In some cases, the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) Clause is applied for child support. According to the COLA Clause, a parent should pay a higher level of child support based on the increased cost of living and responsibilities (Coibion, Gorodnichenko, & Weber, 2020). It shows that even though the other person is relieved of duties to raise their child, they are not relieved of the duty to provide the necessary financial support.

Additionally, there are also steps that the spouse with the custody of the children can take If their ex-partner refuses to pay the agreed child support amount. The spouse has the legal right to report the case to the court. In many states in the United States, there is either a specific amount of time that is allowed before the failure to pay child support is regarded as a felony that results in up to two years in prison. Also, the parent with the children has a right to collect the overdue payment and charge interest and penalties for any late or missing payment. The parent has a right to seize property equalling the amount set for the child support. The court can also order the suspension of the indebted partner’s work license (Dale, 2014). There are many ways to ensure a parent keeps paying for the child’s support.

Therefore, analyzing how child custody is determined, how the amount of support is determined, and ways a parent can facilitate child support payment in case the other spouse refuses to pay shows how the criminal justice is very cautious about considering the needs of a child. The court ensures that a child goes to the parent that will better protect their well-being. Apart from that, the court ensures that the parent that does not end up with the children is providing financial support and other responsibilities that may affect the child’s well-being. Finally, protocols and steps are set to ensure that a parent does not stop paying for the child’s support. The process ensures that the court does anything within their capabilities to maintain the child’s well-being during the divorce process and afterwards. It is a challenge for parents to know how the divorce process will affect their children. Child custody is always a complex issue from criminal justice, social service, and health perspectives. However, it is an issue well protected by laws to ensure that each child receives what is best for them at the time.


Coibion, O., Gorodnichenko, Y., & Weber, M. (2020). The cost of the covid-19 crisis: Lockdowns, macroeconomic expectations, and consumer spending (No. w27141). National Bureau of Economic Research.

Dale, M. D. (2014). Don’t forget the children: Court protection from parental conflict is in the best interests of children. Family Court Review, 52(4), 648-654.Drewianka, S. (2008). Divorce law and family formation. Journal of Population Economics, 21(2), 485-503.

Mnookin, R. (2014). Child custody revisited. Law & Contemp. Probs., 77, 249.

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