Regardless of how unhappy a couple is together, or how inevitable the end of their relationship is, divorce is always a difficult decision. The legal complexities of this life-altering settlement can trigger anxiety, uncertainty and restlessness in both the parties involved. And when you add children to the mix, it only makes things harder. The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive legal guide for parents to help them navigate the intricacies of child custody amidst the legal labyrinth of divorce.
First and foremost, it is important to understand that while child custody laws vary from state to state, some underlying principles are quite similar. For instance, child custody must be decided in the best interest of the child and no parent (mother or father) should be awarded deferential preference based on their sex.
Understanding the types of custody
Essentially, there are two types of child custody; legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to a parent's right to make key decisions about their child's life, such as education, religious preferences, medical care and extra-curricular activities. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the child lives and spends their time.
Joint Custody or Sole Custody?
Ordinarily speaking, it is in the best interest of the child that both the parents are equally involved in his/her life and upbringing. Therefore, the court is inclined towards awarding joint custody, where both the parents have legal and physical custody of the child. However, the final decision is based on numerous factors, including the child’s bond with each parent, each parent’s ability to take care of the child, and the age and personal preferences of the child. If these aspects favor sole custody i.e. one parent has physical custody of the child while the other has visitation rights, it can be an equally viable option.
Change of Circumstances
It is crucial for parents to understand that custody arrangements are not set in stone and are subject to amendment due to change in circumstances. For instance, if one parent relocates to a different state, the physical aspect of custody arrangement might have to be modified to reflect this change.
Custody settlements are complicated and it’s rare that both the parents get what they want. Therefore, in order to make the process smoother and less stressful, each parent must be willing to make compromises and work collaboratively with his/her counterpart.
Prioritizing the Child’s Needs
The loss of family stability and the change in relationship dynamics can be extremely traumatizing for children. Therefore, keeping their needs and well-being in mind is paramount. Successful co-parenting means keeping them out of any disputes and disagreements and encouraging them to build a positive relationship with the other parent.
Hire an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Lastly, in order to overcome any obstacles in the child custody process make sure that you work with an experienced family law attorney.
At DelleFave Law, we are equipped with a team of highly-experienced family attorneys, who can help you, understand your rights under the law, negotiate with the other parent’s attorney and help you achieve a favorable outcome.