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What happens if my spouse and I can’t agree on child support or child custody?

Jul 31, 2020 | Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce, Divorce Mediation, Family Court

In an ideal world, you and your spouse will agree to the terms of your legal separation or divorce. This is often not the case, though, when both parties are looking to protect their rights and assets as best they can. If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement about terms, it will be necessary to work closely with your family law attorney to move the process forward.

Terms involving children of the marriage are often the most disputed. It can be especially challenging and emotional to decide how your child’s life will be affected when you divorce. The two most important terms that need to be settled for a divorce agreement are child custody and child support.

Child Custody

Divorce Lawyers - Bates Family Law, Rochester NY

Custody is defined as the responsibility for the care and control of your child. Custody is different from visitation.

There are two parts to custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about your child, such as where your child goes to school. Physical (or residential) custody is the day-to-day care and supervision of your child.

Child Support

Child support is the money that is intended to be used to cover the food, clothing, shelter, and other basic expenses of a child under 21 years of age. It does not include medical insurance, uninsured medical expenses, child care, or college costs.

Dispute Resolution

If you and your spouse disagree on child custody and/or child support, the courts will need to get involved.

The goal of the court in the determination of custody is to satisfy the best interests of the child. During the hearing, the judge will get information about the details of the situation, including the child’s age, the relationships with both parents, and both home environments. People in the courtroom may include witnesses, a caseworker, and a lawyer for the child, in addition to yourself, your spouse, your attorneys, and the judge.

Neither parent has more of a claim than the other without a custody agreement in place.

The courts may award one parent sole legal custody or give both parents joint legal custody. If you and your spouse share joint legal custody, you will also share the responsibility for making major decisions in your child’s life. You will need to be in regular communication with your child’s co-parent and be willing to compromise as needed.

Sole physical custody may be awarded to one parent, who may also be referred to as the child’s “primary caretaker” or “custodial parent.” Shared physical custody (also known as residential custody) means that your child will live with both parents, with time split equally or as otherwise determined by the court.

Child support is generally filed for after the child custody agreement is in place. The court needs to take into account where the child is living and the expenses associated with that care. It may take several court visits to work out a child support agreement if you and your spouse do not agree on the terms. The judge will need to get a full picture of your financial situation, looking at the incomes of both parents and making calculations based on a variety of factors. A temporary order of support may be issued before a permanent order of support is put in place.

Get Personalized Legal Advice

All parents are looking for the best possible post-divorce outcomes for their children. Child custody and child support rulings will determine how much time you can spend with your child and how you will be able to sustain their care. If you and your spouse can’t agree on the terms of child custody and/or child support, it is imperative that you enlist the help of an expert family law attorney. Call Bates Family Law today at (585) 433-4661 to schedule your free consultation.

Schedule a Consultation

Working with an attorney is a highly personal experience and it is of utmost importance that you feel comfortable with us. We are confident that once you get to know us, you will want to work together. You can set up your consultation by email or phone. We look forward to meeting you.

Conveniently located between Rochester and Canandaigua, servicing all of Monroe and Ontario counties including Pittsford, Brighton, Penfield, Fairport, Farmington, and Victor.


(585) 433-4661

Victor, NY 14564

What our clients are saying...

“Alison represented our daughter from birth until the finalization of her adoption. She was the most knowledgeable, patient, and thorough attorney we could possibly have worked with. While navigating the Family Court system can be incredibly confusing and taxing, Alison took the time to explain every step, and advocated tirelessly for the best interests of our child.”

– Julia C.

“Alison helped me get my kids back in my life! I had an order of protection against me that didn’t allow me to see my kids for 3 months... The day after the court date I was able to see my kids again... I can’t imagine what the outcome would have been if I didn’t have Alison in my corner.  Forever Grateful!”

– Mike P.

“Alison Bates is not just my attorney. Alison Bates is a warrior who battled to make sure my son and I could be together. Alison Bates was my light on a very dark, lonely and scary path. Now I look into my son's eyes and it is hard not to think about Alison and all she did in helping me maintain that unbreakable bond.”

– Mark I.

“Alison has been phenomenal during a very challenging divorce. Her empathy and compassion for my situation while being direct with the realities of the legal system were reassuring and made me feel secure in the path we were taking every step of the way...”

– Tiffany R.

“Alison was a source of compassion and support to me during a very difficult time. She is very knowledgeable and a strong advocate when needed. I appreciated her prompt responses and straightforward manner. When things became difficult, I felt glad to have her in my corner.”

– Kristen H.

When I first met Alison, I was a recently separated father experiencing parental alienation and was having limited access to my child despite my requests to the mother. Alison explained to me that what I was experiencing was not uncommon early on in the separation process and fought hard on my behalf to resolve the matter in a fair and equitable way. Alison was efficient, reliable, and provided clear communication throughout the entire process. I would highly recommend her representation in any family law or divorce proceedings.

– Cory G.

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Bates Family Law, P.C. • (585) 433-4661