Divorce is a difficult time under any circumstances; however, when children are involved the potential for heartache is magnified. Child custody can easily turn into an ugly, bitter, battle. In these situations, everyone loses – especially the children. The first step in protecting your parental rights, and your children’s emotional wellbeing, is to understand the laws, your rights, and your spouse’s rights. Choosing an experienced attorney, who is sensitive to your children’s needs and understanding of your unique situation, is important for a positive outcome.
Types of Child Custody
Custody is a complex issue, because the goal is typically to keep parent-child relationships intact, and allow both parties to retain parental rights, at least to some degree. To accomplish this, custody is divided into legal and physical.
- Legal custody is the parental decision making rights. This includes matters such as religion, education, and medical care. In rare cases, one parent may be granted sole legal custody, but it is usually shared.
- Physical custody is the right and responsibility of determining the child’s living situation, daily care, and location. Physical custody may be allocated in one of four ways:
- Primary physical custody – The parent whom the child lives with, and spends most of his or her time with
- Partial physical custody – The right to take physical custody for specified periods, such as weekends, which total less than 50 percent of the time
- Visitation – The right to see and interact with the child at a specified location, usually with supervision
- Shared physical custody – The child’s time is divided so that each parent has an equal portion
How Custody Is Determined
The court will make decisions based on what is considered to be in the child’s best interest. Many factors are considered, including the child’s preference, each parent’s current circumstances, which parent is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other party, disruption to the child’s living situation, and history or allegations of abuse by either or both parties amongst 16 factors set out in the custody statute. Grandparents also have the right to file for custody in certain situations, when there is concern for the child’s safety or the grandparent has assumed parental responsibilities for 12 months or more.
Jack A. Rounick is a seasoned family law attorney, who is known for his sharp skills in the courtroom, and compassionate understanding with clients, especially when children are involved. He has received numerous accolades, such as inclusion in the “Super Lawyers” and “Best Lawyers in America” lists. Protect your rights and your child’s best interest with a fast, fair, friendly agreement. Call 484-684-6055 and schedule a consultation with Mr. Rounick today.