When it's time to address the bigger questions of your child's future, turn to these Nolo books written just for parents. They cover everything from estate planning for your children and saving for college to balancing budgets and hiring nannies. Read up on how to:
keep your estate plan current as your family situation changes
write a will and choose a guardian for children
navigate the IRS, immigration and agency rules when hiring an au pair or nanny
... and much more!
You'll also get quick, plain-English answers to questions about marriage, adoption, support and custody, plus state-specific resources to help you go further.
Legal questions pop up with disconcerting regularity for parents. You may find yourself wondering about how to get a copy of your child’s birth certificate, whether or not your stepson will inherit from you, what taxes you need to pay when you hire a nanny, or whether you can change your child’s last name if you divorce. Here are some common questions and answers—for more, check out the Nolo books that address these issues in much more detail.
How should someone thinking about adopting a child start?
Adoptive families come together in many ways. Start by learning about the main types of adoption and which ones might work for you:
adoption (domestic or international) through an agency
independent adoption, arranged privately between the birth and adoptive parents
“fost-adopt,” or adoption of a child you’re fostering through the state child welfare system
Identified adoption, where adoptive and birth parents choose each other and then ask an agency to facilitate the adoption
Do all parents, even those without much money, need to write a will?
They sure do. One reason to write a will is to leave your assets—but another is to name a personal guardian for young children. If you don’t, and you and the other parent someday aren’t around to take care of your kids, they’ll need a legal guardian, and a court will appoint one. If you don’t leave a will naming the person you want to raise your children, the court will have to choose someone without any clue about your preferences.
How should parents choose a guardian for their children?
It’s hard, no doubt about it. Obviously, no parents want to think about the possibility that someone else would have to raise their children. So don’t dwell on it, trying to find the perfect person; just pick someone. You can always change your mind later and make a new will, naming a new guardian.
Must parents who hire a nanny from abroad check immigration documents?
Yes, because you can legally only hire someone who has the right to get a job in this country. Even someone who’s here legally—for example, someone who came to the United States legally with a student spouse—may not have a visa that allows her to work here.
Do parents get tax breaks?
The U.S. tax system rewards parents with a variety of tax breaks, including:
Child tax credit. Parents can subtract $1,000 per child (16 or younger) from their federal income tax bill, subject to family income limits. (For the 2012 tax year, the credit is phased out for a married couple filing jointly if their adjusted gross income is more than $110,000.)
Dependent exemption. You can take an income tax deduction for each dependent, including children. For 2012, the amount is $3,800; it goes up each year with inflation.
Childcare tax credit. This is a credit of 20% to 35% of the first $3,000 per year you spend per child.
Dependent care accounts. If your employer offers this benefit, you can sock away pretax dollars in an account, and then use the money to pay for dependent care.