Primary custody generally refers to the parent with whom the children live the majority of the time. Whether you have primary custody and are trying to maintain it or are seeking primary custody, one of the most important legal matters for you to keep in mind is that you should assiduously follow every court-ordered term that has been handed down to you in the interim, and this includes terms related to financial support for your children or divorcing spouse.
Perhaps you are in that difficult stage in divorce in which you and your spouse are separated. Your children are living with your former spouse, primarily. At the same time, you have a visitation schedule and await the court’s final ruling on custody. Or you may be defending the primary custody you’ve already obtained against your ex’s attempt to modify the arrangements. Finally, you may be attempting to change your custody terms to transfer primary custody from your ex to you. Whatever the situation, your goal is to demonstrate to the court that you put your children’s well-being and best interests first – and this includes adhering to the letter of each and every court order related to financial support for your children or your ex. After all, you are attempting to convince this same court that it is in your children’s best interests for you to become or remain their primary custodial parent – and children need ongoing financial support.
You could have any number of reasons for sidestepping your financial obligations, and they might seem – or even be – completely valid, but that is for the court to determine. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us with far fewer financial options and, in some instances, less income. Furloughs, wage decreases, lost jobs, and ongoing uncertainty all lead to tighter economic circumstances – nearly across the board. Additionally, you may believe your children’s situations have changed enough to negate or decrease the need for you to keep up your financial support at the same level. For example:
If you are paying for additional therapy or enhanced educational opportunities but believe your child no longer needs these services
If you have been contributing to a major purchase for your child, such as a car or a college account, but his or her financial goal has been met
If your divorcing spouse’s financial situation has changed significantly and he or she no longer needs the same level of financial support from you
The court could find any one of these circumstances – and many others – compelling, but that is up to the judge to determine. Before taking critical financial matters, such as decreasing financial support into your own hands, consult with an experienced divorce attorney.