Child custody and visitation cases are often emotionally charged, financially exhausting, and can drag out for years. They can be complex and full of contention, as the decisions made have a huge impact on your life and the lives of your children. We can help you find the best possible resolution.
When reaching out to us about your child custody case, there are a few key things to remember.
1. There are two types of custody in every case
There’s legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make important decisions affecting your child’s health, safety and welfare. Some examples include which school your child attends, addressing medical needs or health issues, participation in extracurricular activities, and out-of-state travel.
Physical custody refers to which parent the child spends their time with, and when.
Although legal and physical custody are often dealt with at the same time, each type of custody is considered separately and it is possible for parents to share one type of custody, but not the other.
2. Courts make decisions based on their determination of the best interests of the children
At all times, in any custody dispute, Courts will always make decisions based on what they think is in the “best interests of the children.” The law goes further and says that in general, children benefit from having “frequent and continuing contact” with both parents. This is very important to remember.
This rule, however, can be very subjective. The law does not always say how frequent or how continuous the contact should be, but instead leaves that to the discretion of individual judges.
Some parents argue that they should receive sole custody because they care more or because their spouse had an extramarital affair. But unless you can demonstrate that this caring or the affair had an effect on the child’s wellbeing and general interests, it is irrelevant according to the law. At all times, Courts will ask what is best for the children, NOT the parents.
3. Equal, joint custody is the typical starting point
More and more, Courts are demonstrating that in general, they lean towards granting joint legal and physical custody to both parents, with each parent receiving 50% of their children’s time.
There are several factors that can change this. Some examples include the age of the child, the living situation of each parent, and whether there has been any abuse or domestic violence.
But joint custody with equal time is often the starting point for such disputes in a judge’s mind.
Additional things that could be considered
Every custody case is unique, and we will work with you to thoroughly analyze all factors that could come into consideration by the court, including:
- Amount of time you spend with your child
- Amount of time the other parent spends with your child
- Activities you are involved with your child
- Negative or detrimental behavior or environment
- Work schedules
- Travel schedules
Looking for the best possible custody arrangement?
If you’re fighting for custody over your children, don’t hesitate to talk with us. We’ll provide you with a no-obligations consultation, completely free of charge, and can prepare you with realistic expectations while helping you figure out the best possible arrangement for you and your child.