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What happens to our children when we separate?

You can determine what happens. The best solution for the children is for the parents to reach an agreement on who will take care of them. If you and the other parent agree on a parenting plan, you should attach a copy of the plan to the dissolution papers. Your parenting plan can become a court order; in most cases, a judge will approve a custody plan agreed upon by both parents.

You and the other parent are both responsible for supporting your children if they are under age 18. And this duty may extend beyond age 18 if certain conditions are met. In addition to child support, parents may be required to pay other expenses for the children, such as child care, medical care and/or travel between households.

The amount of support to be paid by one parent to the other is based on established guidelines. Computer programs are available for helping parents determine who will pay such support, and how much is to be paid. Significant factors include each parent’s income and the amount of custodial time each of you spends with the children.

Such support need not be reported as income for federal and state tax purposes, and the parent paying such support is not entitled to a tax deduction.

You may request a wage assignment order. This is an order that requires a parent’s employer to make child support payments directly from the parent’s wages.