When deciding where the children live after a divorce, there are a number of options. Parents can share physical custody, or one parent could be awarded primary physical custody. The decision is made based on the best interests of the children. There are a number of benefits for the parent who has primary physical custody.
More Time with the Children
The most obvious benefit of primary physical custody is more parenting time with the children. As they grow up, time spent with them is a valuable commodity. Spending time with the children allows a parent to help and influence them during critical years. In many divorces, each parent wants as much time with the children as they can have for themselves.
Primary physical custody means that you have more than half of the time with the children. It does mean more parenting responsibility, which many parents will gladly assume for the right to spend more time with their kids.
Consistency for the Children
Some children do not react well to an even split between the two parents’ homes. It could involve a lot of moving back and forth, which could be stressful for the children. In addition, the parents may not have a harmonious enough relationship to share custody evenly. Joint physical custody requires even more coordination that some parents just cannot pull off, given their difficulty in communication. Custody exchanges could spark disputes between the parents. The more of them there are, the higher the chance of an argument.
Primary physical custody provides a more certain arrangement that could lend more stability for the children. This is not to say that it is automatically better than shared physical custody, but stability is one of the pros of this arrangement. There may be less disruption to the child’s routine that could enable them to handle the divorce better. In the meantime, visitation will allow them to spend time with the noncustodial parent.
Reliable Child Support
The parent with primary physical custody would be the one to who the other parent owes child support. The amount of child support may depend on each parent’s amount of time with the child. After a certain number of overnights with the other parent, the amount could be reduced. This will help the parent with the expenses of raising the children.
At the same time, primary physical custody could also reduce some of the expenses of parenting. If the children share time equally between the two parents, they may need to have two of everything for each parent’s home. There will be less worry about things like moving the child’s favorite possessions between the homes.
Child Tax Benefits
The federal government has recently increased the child tax credit. There is talk that this could be made permanent or extended even further. Currently, this benefit can be as high as $300 per month per child. While the parents can agree on who gets to claim the child on their tax return, a court would usually award the tax credit to the parent with primary physical custody. This could result in a significant annual saving on a tax bill or even a payment from the IRS.
You should be prepared for custody to be the most important issue in your divorce when children are involved. The other parent may either want shared custody or primary physical custody for themselves. This often requires extensive negotiation to find an arrangement that satisfies both parents. We can help with suggestions that could break an impasse between you and the other parent. If not, we will litigate your case in court in front of a judge.
In addition, you can still have an influence on your child’s life even if you do not have physical custody. Primary physical custody does not mean that you cannot share legal custody with the other parent, nor does it mean that you cannot see your child.
The best thing for the children is if these issues are resolved through a mutual agreement between the parents. Court hearings are tense, and they can lead to a permanent rupture in the relationship between the two parents. However, the other parent may not agree to your having primary physical custody. Courts are now moving towards being more accepting of shared physical custody. If both parents want shared custody, a judge may be inclined to listen. This does not mean that primary physical custody is impossible to obtain in a contested case. You should consider the realities of the situation for the children before making any decisions.
Charlotte Family Lawyers
Custody of your children is a critical matter, and you should not go without experienced legal counsel when dealing with these issues. The attorneys at Remington & Dixon can help you when custody issues are initially determined and when modifications may be necessary. We provide objective and effective counsel that will explain your legal options and the way to achieve the best legal outcome. Call us today at (704) 247-7110 or contact us online to get started. This is a call that you cannot afford not to make when there are key custody issues at stake.
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Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.