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Parents Continue to Fight Over Custody and Support Payments

There are two kinds of divorces: a divorce between two people who don't have any children, and those couples who do have children.

You know which one is more expensive, right? It's not hard to guess.

When two people get to the point of hating each other, the fight over child custody becomes intense, heated, and expensive.

Take the case of Bradley and Catherine Coopedge. Sometime after having two daughters, they decided to go their separate ways. They finalized their divorce ten years ago.

Their daughters were attending a private school and summer and after-school care at St. Luke School in Georgia. The divorce decree stipulated that Bradley would pay $2,000/month for child support and educational expenses, including the after-school care. The decree also noted that if tuition were to increase, both parties would share the added cost.

Change in After-School Care Sparks New Battle

In the spring of 2010, Catherine removed her daughters from St. Luke summer care and hired a babysitter for the summer and after-school child. Catherine's decision prompted Bradley decided to file a petition seeking a modification of the original terms of the divorce decree.

Not pleased with her ex-husband's decision, Catherine decided to file a counterclaim for contempt. She argued that her husband failed to pay $7,000 in child support. How did Catherine arrive at that amount? She calculated what her husband would have paid if their daughters were still placed in the original after-school and summer care programs with St. Luke. In addition, she noted that Bradley had violated their child he wished to modify his visitation rights, which the trial court had denied. visitation agreement.

At the trial court, a judge denied Bradley's petition and ordered him to pay the $7,000. The court reasoned that his payments weren't contingent on his continued attendance at St. Luke's programs. The court also ruled that Bradley was in contempt of the final divorce decree regarding Catherine's visitation rights and denied Bradley the right to modify his visitation rights.

Father Pushes His Case to the Supreme Court of Georgia

Displeased with the decision, Bradley filed an appeal. He argued that:

  1. The trial court was wrong in holding him in contempt due to his reduced child support payment.
  2. He was justified in reducing his payment once Catherine took the daughters out of St. Luke's programs and hired a babysitter.
  3. He wished to modify his visitation rights, which the trial court had denied. 

On the issue of reducing his payments when the mother replaced St. Luke's programs with a babysitter, the Supreme Court of Georgia agreed. In fact, the justices ruled that the state court abused its discretion by holding the husband in contempt of the decree.

Regarding the child visitation issue, the justices agreed that Bradley was wrong when he took his daughters out of town on Catherine's birthday. Also, the justices denied the father's request to modify the couple's visitation arrangement.

Child Support Factors in California

  • When entering a discussion about child custody and support in California, remember these factors:
  • Your most important obligation is to support your children financially and emotionally.
  • It's assumed that a child should benefit from both parents' income.
  • California is the most expensive states to reside in, and support orders will reflect that fact. Don't compare your child support amount to what a friend living in Alabama might be paying.

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