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Non Parent Custody

In making an award of child custody to either parent, the Court must consider several factors; the best interest of the child is always the intent of the Court, with custodial orders to both parents jointly, then to either parent.  If the Court makes an order of custody to one parent over the other, the Court shall consider which parent is more likely to allow frequent and continuing contact of the children by the other parent.   The Court may also consider an award of custody to a person whom the child has been living with, even if that person is not the child’s parent, if the living environment is wholesome and stable.  The Court may deem a non-parent suitable if they are able to provide adequate and proper care and guidance.   If the Court awards custody to a non-parent, over a parent’s objection, the Court must determine that it would be detrimental to the child to remain in the custody of the parent and a non-parent award of custody is in the best interest of the child.  Detriment includes harm of removal from a stable placement with the person who has assumed the day-to-day role of the parent, or one who fulfills the physical and psychological needs for care and affection of the child, over a lengthy period of time.   If you have found yourself caring for a child and providing the physical and psychological needs on a day-to-day basis, taking the role of the “parent” and have a desire to seek an award for custody of that child, you may have a right to seek...

Department of Child Support Services (DCSS)

Child support will be an issue for any parent going through a divorce.  Generally, child support is ordered to be paid by the non-custodial parent, until the child reaches eighteen years of age AND has completed high school.  If the custodial parent has sought the help of the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS), enforcement of a support order may begin before expected.  If you have been contacted by DCSS for the payment of child support, it is important that you seek immediate legal help, from an attorney who practices custody and support law. Typically, a DCSS action will begin when one party provides the agency with information that the other parent has failed to provide support for the child.  The DCSS is often aggressive in their attempts to collect support from the non-custodial parent, even when the information they have been provided is not completely true or accurate.  This sometimes leads to higher than necessary support orders for the parent who is ordered to make payments. If child support is not paid, DCSS has the power to garnish pay checks, force parents to include children in health care plans, suspend or revoke driver’s licenses or other state issued licenses, and place liens on property or bank accounts to collect unpaid money. Unfortunately, there are times when DCSS is necessary; but there are other times when mistakes are made and DCSS has gone after the wrong person or attempted to enforce an order against a person who is not behind on payments.  If you are facing a DCSS hearing, do not face it alone.  If you have questions regarding...