Child custody is a serious life changing event, after a failed relationship between parents. It is imperative to have an experienced child custody lawyer who knows the state laws and how to achieve the best possible outcome for the lives that will be affected moving forward. The degree of emotion tied to child custody disputes is enormous and the resolution will impact the future relationship with children for each parent, and cause disruptions for the stability of the children regarding their 1. living space(s), 2. changes in routine, 3. feelings of anxiety, and 4. increased situations where they will have variable outcomes, versus the constants that a previous two-parent household may have provided. An experienced child custody attorney is an asset in smoothing out many of these daunting fears for clients, as they struggle through legal custody battles.
Types of child custody in .
A child custody lawyer can explain child custody laws to clients, as they pertain to both parents’ legal responsibility to the children. Battles involving child custody are best addressed with an experienced attorney to avoid negative family impacts and include decisions regarding physical custody of children, timesharing, visitation, household stability and when, or if parents can move out of state.
- Physical custody – custody that is in the best interests of the child, considering a multitude of factors such as age, parental preference, mental and physical health of parents, child’s community, school, and home environment; parental history of violence; relationship with child and moral standing.
- Visitation – a parent not granted custody, or joint custody of a child is entitled to reasonable visitation. Some states have timesharing requirements versus custody per se.
- Family violence impact – in cases involving a history of family violence, or domestic abuse, including sexual abuse, a court may determine an award of custody, or visitation in accordance with state laws regarding family violence.
- Parental education – some states require parental education before a divorce action can be finalized and an experienced child custody attorney can assist with this requirement.
Comprehensive time-sharing agreements.
Family division takes a toll on families, especially children who have to split their time between two households. It is usually best to make a comprehensive time-sharing agreement that is agreed upon by both parents and file it with the court. If one parent is not adhering to the agreed-upon plan, it may be best to hire a child custody attorney who can file a formal order to request changes for custody.
- Parental time-sharing. Some states prefer to address child custody in terms of parental time-sharing agreements, where one parent may have sole parental responsibility, or where one parent may have more parenting time with a child. Physical custody refers to the parent who establishes a home for the child. A custodial parent is the one who cares for, controls events in a minor child’s life while maintaining the necessities of daily living. A non-custodial parent is one that financially supports a child, but has an agreed upon schedule called “time-sharing” where they are able to spend time with the child based on a predetermined schedule with the other parent. In certain cases, if a parent is a threat to the child, custodial rights can be taken away, based on court decisions after hearings and reviews are concluded. Sole custody is when a parent has full custody of a child with the financial support of the other parent and they make all decisions regarding the minor child.
- Parental responsibility. Parental responsibility is different from time-sharing, it has more to do with decisions that will affect the live and activities of a child. The responsibility of these decisions may be split evenly despite the fact that one parent will have more physical time with a child than the other. Decisions involved in shares issues of parental responsibility include education, medical care, religion, and extra-curricular activities such as sports. Parental responsibility may be tied directly to child custody because it is prudent for the parent who physical custody to be involved in the impacts of those decisions on a daily basis.
- Judge determinations. An experienced custody attorney can advise clients on factors that a judge will consider for timeshare agreements that may sway custody battles in one direction, or another and they include:
- The willingness of a parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent,
- A parent’s willingness to honor the time-sharing schedule,
- The ability of each parent to put their own needs after the child’s needs,
- Whether the home environment provides stability for the child,
- The physical, emotional, and mental health of each parent,
- Any past troubles, like child abuse, domestic violence, or child endangerment,
- The desire of the child, if the child is old enough to decide (usually at the age of 12),
- A parent’s willingness and ability to participate in a child’s education and other activities.
A custody lawyer can be instrumental in child custody modifications when one parent needs changes to custody, and the other disagrees. It may be necessary to hire a custody lawyer to effectuate the changes with court approval, because any timesharing agreement, or custody modification has no legal effect unless ordered by the presiding court judge.
Child custody impacts support.
Child custody is directly linked to the amount of child support each parent is required to pay and an attorney can help with filing distinctions when children are involved, including a child support information sheet; support obligation income affidavits; child support guidelines forms; and a child support guideline notice of compliance depending on the requirements of the state where the divorce action is initiated.
child custody lawyers
Most courts do not require parents to have a lawyer in custody cases, but it is best to seek legal counsel to make sure parents can provide a foundation in their children’s lives, and the children are given enough time to know both parents.