When a couple is considering a separation and/or Divorce child custody and visitation rights can be the most challenging decisions the spouses will make. It can also be the largest source of conflict in a divorce or separation. Many decisions have to be made about where the children will be raised, who they will live with, will you have shared custody or will one spouse have primary custody, what happens if a spouse remarries and wants to move away with the children? These are just a few of many issues and questions that will need to be resolved.
Many couples can come to an agreement about child custody issues with the assistance of a professional experienced family law attorney without going to court. If parents are able to compromise and reach an agreement about co-parenting, an option that gives both parents a major role in the child's life, then joint custody is possible. With joint physical and legal custody, the child usually resides with both parents for a significant amount of time during the year. Parents communicate and must stay well informed so decisions about education, health and the overall welfare of the child can be decided on.
Other options may include:
- Sole physical and legal custody - the parent with whom the child lives makes all the decisions, but the other parent may still have visitation rights.
- Sole physical and joint legal custody - the child resides with one parent the majority of the time and the other parent has visitation rights. Both parents are informed and both make decisions about education, health and welfare of the child.
If possible, it is best to at attempt to reach an agreement on child custody without going to court. Another option you can consider along with your attorney is to resolve custody issues through mediation.
There are times when litigation (having a judge decide your case in court) is the best alternative, especially if there is substance abuse, alcoholism, spouse abuse, or child abuse occurring, it may be necessary for the court to intervene. These types of behaviors or 'home' atmosphere will raise some serious concerns about a child's overall well-being and care.
At Schulz Stephenson Law, we want to help answer thoroughly any questions you may have about the custody of a child, or children, in the event you are facing a separation and divorce. We always try to stay focused on the welfare of the children involved and work on developing action plans to assist the spouses with coming to a favorable solution for all of those concerned.