Going through a divorce is never easy. In many ways, you’re losing your closest friend that you meant to spend the rest of your life with. If you’re a parent who is going through a divorce, however, you could also lose your place in your child’s life.
Maintaining custody of their child is a primary concern for almost every parent going through a divorce. As a parent, it’s important to understand the options available for child custody and how child custody is determined.
It’s a common misconception that custody is always determined by a judge. While this can be the case, it is often decided out of the court between parents, attorneys, and mediators. This is generally the preferred scenario, as it allows parents to establish an agreement that they’re both happy with.
However, it’s not always possible.
If the parents can’t agree on the terms of custody, then the decision will be given to the court. The top priority of the judge is always to determine what is in the best interest of the child. They will look at who has a stronger emotional bond with the child, as well as who handles the majority of child-related tasks.
These are not the only factors though. A parent’s ability to care for the needs of the child, the stability of a parent’s home, and the general safety they provide are all taken into consideration. Finally, the child will likely even be asked to give their opinion, though this will usually be done outside of the court.
There are two separate aspects to custody: legal and physical.
Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions regarding your child’s life. This includes schooling, medical care, etc.
Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to providing food, housing, etc.
The type of custody that is set will ultimately determine what role, if any, each parent has in these two aspects.
In cases of shared custody, both parents will play an active role in their child’s day-to-day lives. Shared custody can be split into just legal or physical custody, or it can cover both areas. If parents share both legal and physical custody, they will be responsible for the general provisional needs of their child, as well as making decisions together regarding schooling and medical care.
In the case of shared legal custody, if one parent makes an important legal decision without the consent of the other, they can be brought to court where they will be reprimanded for their actions.
Also known as sole custody, residential custody is where one parent is given physical and legal responsibility of the child. That means the child lives with that parent in a permanent capacity, and they make decisions regarding education, medical needs, religious upbringing, and more.
The other parent will usually have visitation rights that are decided by the court. This could include certain weekends and holidays. Sole custody has become less common in recent years. Typically, it’s only set if one parent poses a danger to the child, as well as situations where the parents live in separate geographical locations.
Because everyone’s situations are different, there are a variety of shared custody arrangements that may be assigned. These arrangements can often be tailored to your individual needs. Parents might rotate every week or every few months. Some parents might handle the school year while the other houses the child for the summer.
Holidays are typically split up and rotated from year to year.
Ultimately, the arrangement is based on what works best for the child within the lives, schedules, and capabilities of the parent. If the parents cannot come to an agreement on the shared arrangement, the court will ultimately impose custody terms.
Whether you believe you can come to agreeable terms with your spouse or not, it’s important that you have proper legal representation. Having an experienced attorney can greatly improve your odds of winning custody, or at least coming to terms that you’re happy with.
For a Springfield divorce attorney, contact the offices of Michael T. Edwards today!