Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stay at home mom, primary caretaker of child, now a student. How do courts determine child custody and spousal support?

Q:  I've been a stay at home mom since pregnancy, the primary person of care and contact for our young daughter(not of school age yet). Since marriage has been falling apart, I've decided to go back to school. I have no money. I rely on his "allowance". He does not support me having a babysitter while I am in school. He works all sorts of hours and travels often out of state on business. Domestic abuse in house such as verbal, emotional, physical in front of our child coming from him. I need to get my daughter and myself out. What am I looking at in terms of support and custody of child? What about spousal support until I pick myself up financially? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

A: David's Answer: You would clearly be entitled to child support, which is set at 17% of his adjusted gross income for 1 child. As to whether & how much spousal support (i.e., maintenance) you would receive, a good starting point is to consult NYS's maintenance calculator: Ultimately maintenance involves analyzing a host of factors, such as length of marriage, the disparity of income (taking into account payment of child support) as distribution of other assets. As for custody, the courts tend to award custody (all else being equal) to the parent who has been the "primary psychological parent" for the child. But as the maintenance & custody issues involve complex analysis, I highly encourage you to call a Westchester Co. Divorce lawyer to schedule a consultation.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Divorce attorney (

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