One of your biggest concerns as a divorcing parent is your child’s well-being. The last thing you want when ending your marriage is to create a worse situation for your child. One of the most important considerations during a divorce is where your child will live and with whom. Ideally, parents will be able to share custody of their child and still be able to parent as a team, but this is not always possible, especially during the early stages of divorce when things were particularly contentious and emotions are running high.
If you’re divorcing and you have a child or children, what should you know about custody and how your divorce will affect your time with your child?
First, it’s important to understand how sensitive child custody issues can be. It’s tough as a parent, especially if you are at odds with your spouse, to focus on your child’s needs and put your feelings aside. Often, parents believe they are doing the right thing by fighting their spouse on custody issues, but in the long run they realize they let their desires interfere with the process. It’s also difficult to remain clear-headed if you believe your spouse is threatening your right to spend time with your child.
The best thing you can do in these situations is to try your best to keep your child’s health and well-being your priority and work with an experienced attorney who can help you defend your rights and do right by your child. An attorney can also help you determine what to do and say when it comes to presenting your case for custody of your child to a judge. The sooner you get serious about your situation and understand the need to defend your rights the better.
What is the Difference Between Joint Custody and Primary Custody?
There are different types of custody arrangements available for divorcing parents. Choosing one type of custody over
the other might have nothing to do with who is a better parent or who loves their child more. It’s often a matter of what’s in the child’s best interest as far as living arrangements, financial needs, and other practical issues such as where they attend school or their relationships with extended family. As long as you are being treated fairly and decisions about custody are based on honest facts, you should try not to take a proposed custody arrangement as a personal attack.
The difference between joint and primary physical custody boils down to where a child lives and how much time he or she spends with each parent, while joint vs. primary legal custody determines who makes important decisions in the child’s life. When possible, the court grants joint custody to parents. When joint physical custody is not an option, the court does everything it can to ensure both parents are still a part of the child’s life and that each parent is granted as much visitation time as possible in situations in which this is safe for the child.
Most people agree that it’s healthier for a child when both parents can share the responsibilities of child-rearing and continue to act as a team, even though they are no longer married. When both parents can communicate with respect and both are deemed capable, the court will likely grant joint legal custody. Even if one parent is primarily responsible for significant decisions, the other parent is often given the opportunity to be involved in the decision-making process and be kept informed of things that happen in the child’s life.
What is the Difference Between Joint Legal Custody and Joint Physical Custody?
Also, there are also two types of joint custody: legal and physical. In joint legal custody, both parents are responsible for making decisions regarding their child’s life. In joint physical custody, a child lives with both parents and/or parents are granted equal time with their child.
The court considers a variety of factors when it comes to determine physical and legal custody issues, including the health of the child, the health of both parents, the living arrangements during and after the marriage ended, the relationships a child has with other siblings and other extended family members, where the child goes to school, and whether or not he or she participates in extracurricular activities. The court looks at the child’s life during the marriage and tries to keep the healthiest parts intact following the divorce.
What If My Spouse and I Agree on a Custody Arrangement?
Ideally, parents will be able to create their custody arrangement without much interference from the court. In most cases, parents will understand their child’s needs better than the court system, so it’s preferred they’ll create a parenting agreement that the court can sign off on without the judge having to decide the stipulations. The majority of child custody cases are settled in this matter before the court is forced to get involved. Parenting agreements can be discussed between parents or with the support of their attorneys and/or a third-party negotiator. The less contentious custody decisions are, the better it is for everyone involved, especially the child.
It’s important to have a custody arrangement in place as soon possible. In some situations, a temporary agreement during the separation or divorce can set the groundwork for the permanent agreement, so it’s important you that careful when agreeing to anything on a temporary basis that you aren’t comfortable with long-term. Your attorney can help you with decisions about custody and be able to advise you on how best to protect your rights as initial and long-term custody decisions are made.
If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage and you are concerned about your child’s well-being, we can help. We understand how important custody matters are during a separation and divorce, and we know it can be difficult to balance your own emotions and look out for the well-being of your child during this difficult time. We also know how frustrating it can be to feel as if your parenting abilities have been called into question by your soon-to-be-former spouse or the legal system.
To discuss the details of your situation or to schedule a consultation to learn more about custody issues, contact Remington & Dixon at 704-247-7110.