Parents who file for divorce must decide who will care for the children. The courts expect that the adults will have a plan for equal parenting time. If the parents cannot agree on a plan for sharing custody, the court will have to decide what is best for the health and welfare of the children. Here are a few things you need to understand about child custody:
In the case of a divorce, both parents have the same parental rights. Both parents are expected to provide support for the child and share custody. They can work out a plan for doing this on their own and most often the courts will agree to it.
In cases where the parents cannot agree on sharing custody, the court will determine who will be the custodial parent (the one who will have physical custody) and who will be the non-custodial parent with rights for visitation. The custodial parent will be the one who will make all the decisions regarding the child.
Creating a Parenting Plan
The easiest way to work out custody is to create a parenting plan. Both parties can decide how to share custody fairly. The parents can make a plan and detail out who will have physical custody on what days like weekdays, weekends, school vacations, and holidays. If the parents are in agreement, the courts can incorporate the parenting plan into the custody order.
How Do Courts Decide Who Gets Custody?
If there is no shared custody agreement between the parents then the courts have to decide. It all comes down to the best interest of the child. Which parent can provide a stable, safe environment for the child? The courts will look at both parents and decide who the child will live with primarily.
What Are Visitation Rights?
There are two types of custody. Physical custody is the person the child lives with most of the time but legal custody may be given to another person. Legal custody means sharing the responsibility for making decisions concerning the child but the child does not live with them.
Most often, physical custody is granted to one parent and joint legal custody is granted to the other with visitation rights. The other parent may have their visitation rights denied when there is evidence to suggest emotional or physical abuse. The court may allow supervised visitation in such cases.
The court takes several factors into consideration when deciding what is in the best interest of the child:
o Is the parent able to care for the child?
o Can the parent provide for the child financially?
o Does the child have an emotional bond with the parent?
o Is the parent”s living situation stable and suitable for the child?
In cases of older children, the court may ask them who they would prefer to live with and base their decision on the child’s preference if there is no reason to deny it.
If you are in the process of getting a divorce and seek custody of your children, you will need the services of a local attorney. There are many issues that can impact your ability to gain custody and a qualified attorney can help you navigate the waters, so to speak.