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A concerned parent who is preparing for litigation regarding child-related issues will want to learn as much as he or she can ahead of time to be able to make informed decisions and protect the best interests of his or her child. Child custody is a broad term that refers to numerous issues, some of which are quite complex and difficult to resolve, especially if the two parents involved disagree on what’s best for their children.
Perhaps you’re considering filing for divorce, which means you and your spouse must resolve child custody issues in order to achieve a settlement. Then again, you and your child’s other parent might never have been married but are asking the court to make decisions regarding custody of your son or daughter. The following list shows the basic types of child custody followed by a brief explanation of each:
The more you learn about each of these types of child custody, the better able you might be to protect your parental rights and determine a best course of action in a specific set of circumstances.
If the court is making decisions about your child’s physical custody, it means that the judge overseeing your case is going to determine with which parent the child should live. Depending on the age of your child, the judge might discuss the issue with him or her to ask if he or she would prefer to live with one or the other parent.
Whereas physical custody refers to your child’s place of residence, legal custody is the authority to make decisions on behalf of a child. Such decisions might include matters of education, health care, faith, relocation or other important life issues. If both parents have legal custody, they must consult with one another and achieve an agreement before decisions are made.
Another term for joint custody is “shared” custody. In most cases, family court judges agree that children fare best, especially after divorce, in shared custody situations. You and your co-parent can share physical and/or legal custody. If you have joint physical custody of your child, it means that he or she will alternate living between two households. Shared legal custody means that you and your ex have equal decision-making authority. It’s possible to have joint physical custody while only one parent has legal custody. It’s also possible to share legal custody while one parent has full, physical custody.
You may believe that your children would be better off if you were to have sole custody of them. This means that you would have both physical and legal custody while your ex, perhaps, receives visitation privileges. In many cases, particularly if a noncustodial parent has been deemed a detriment to the children’s well-being, the court may restrict visits to supervised visits only or may rule that a parent is not allowed to see his or children at all. If you request sole custody of your kids on the grounds that you believe their other parent is unfit, you will be tasked with providing evidence to the court to substantiate your allegations.
Divorce isn’t easy, but it need not ruin children’s lives. Although many child custody issues are complex and challenging to resolve, it is often possible to come to an agreement in an amicable fashion. If you and your co-parent are both willing to cooperate and compromise for the sake of your kids, you increase the chances of achieving a fair and agreeable child custody settlement. It is just as important for unmarried parents to be willing to work as a team when attempting to resolve physical or legal custody issues.
The court often issues a child support order as part of custody proceedings, although not every custody case involves child support issues. Whether or not a parent should pay child support, how much such payments should be and how a parent should submit such payments is left to the discretion of the court.
Each state governs child custody issues according to its own guidelines, which is another reason why a parent preparing for a custody hearing will want to discuss his or her case with someone who is well-versed in this area of law. Once a court order has been issued, both parents are required to adhere to its terms unless and until the court modifies the order.
When you got married, you undoubtedly expected your marriage to a last a lifetime. As years passed and your family grew, you may have encountered problems in your relationship, which is not uncommon for most married couples. If you’ve decided that divorce is the most viable option and that you and your spouse should part ways, you have probably begun thinking about child custody proceedings. Filing for divorce means that you and your spouse must resolve numerous important issues regarding your children’s lives as they move forward and adapt to changes in their daily routine.
Joint custody has many benefits
As parents, you and your ex will always have a need to interact. When, where and how you do that depends on the specific details of your circumstances and what the terms of your final court order happen to be. Most family court judges agree that children fare better in divorce when given ample opportunity to maintain a close bond and active relationship with both parents. A joint custody arrangement enables them to do so. The following list shows several reasons why you may want to consider splitting custody 50/50 in your divorce:
Share parental obligations
Help maintain a scheduled routine
Easier to schedule personal time
Helps lower expenses
Such benefits can make coping with divorce less stressful for you and your children. It is especially helpful for kids to witness their parents working as a team to cooperate, look for common ground when there’s a disagreement and compromise as needed for their sake. On the contrary, if kids are constantly exposed to parental conflict, they may experienced increased levels of stress or feel confused about showing loyalty to one parent or the other after a divorce.
You don’t always have to resolve problems alone
If you are the primary custodian, most of the parental responsibility lies on your shoulders. When you and your ex share physical and legal custody, you also share the responsibility and obligations that are a natural part of parenting. When you encounter a challenging issue, you need not feel like you have to try to resolve it alone.
Children tend to do better when there’s normalcy and routine
While divorce disrupts the lives of children, studies show that when parents help kids maintain a sense of normalcy and routine after divorce, they are better able to cope with the changes in their lives. Joint custody enables you to schedule everything, including when your kids will stay in each household, who will spend holidays with them, who will drive them to school, sports practice or wherever they need to go, etc.
Scheduling time to yourself is easier
Perhaps you plan on taking college classes or pursuing a promotion at work. You might even decide that you’d like to start dating again. With a joint custody arrangement, you know exactly when your children will be staying with you, which makes scheduling time to yourself a lot less stressful.
Joint custody makes it easy to share expenses
When your are sharing custody of your children, you and your co-parent can also share expenses. You’re free to customize your post-divorce financial plan. You might decide that when the kids stay with a particular parent, that parent pays all expenses that arise during that time. You can also write out terms of agreement regarding medical expenses, extra-curricular activities and other issues. Once the court approves your plan and issues a court order, you are both obligated to adhere to its terms.
Are there reasons not to agree to joint custody?
Joint custody doesn’t work for everyone. To be successful, you and your ex must be able to work together as a team in an amicable fashion and must be willing to peacefully discuss any problems that arise to try to resolve the issue together. If you’re in a situation where you believe that your ex places your children at risk, then joint custody isn’t likely to be a course of action you’d want to pursue.
For instance, if your ex has a substance abuse problem or has been physically or emotionally abusive in the past, you may want to consider filing a petition for sole physical and legal custody of your children instead of agreeing to share custody. The court always keeps children’s best interests in mind when making custody decisions in a divorce. Child safety is always a top priority.
It’s helpful to speak with trusted friends or family members who have signed joint custody agreements in a divorce. While every family’s journey is unique, you can listen to what others have to say as to what has worked or not worked in their particular case. Building a strong support network from the start is the key to helping your children cope with divorce and adapt to a new lifestyle.
Spodek Law Group have offered me excellent support and advice thru a very difficult time. I feel I've dealt with someone who truly cares and wants the best outcome for you and yours. I'm extremely grateful for all the help Spodek Law Group has offered me. I can't recommend them enough.
Spodek Law Group was incredibly professional and has given me the best advice I could wish for. They had been helpful and empathetic to my stressful situation. Would highly recommend Spodek Law Group to anyone I meet.
Best service I ever had. Todd is absolutely class personified. You are in the safest hands with spodek. They have their clients interest in mind.
Our divorce lawyers provide superior service, and results, with a white glove touch that few others can deliver.
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