Child custody and visitation are among family law’s most emotionally charged issues. The legal process of determining custody and visitation can be complex and confusing, but understanding it can help parents navigate it more effectively.
First, it’s important to understand the different types of custody. There are two main types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to decide about the child’s upbringing, such as education, medical care, and religion. Physical custody, however, refers to where the child will live.
Joint custody is when both parents have legal and physical custody of the child. In this case, the child will spend equal time with both parents, and both parents will have equal decision-making power. On the other hand, sole custody is when one parent has legal and physical custody of the child. The non-custodial parent usually has visitation rights, which are scheduled times when the child can spend time with them.
In most cases, the court will start with the presumption that it’s in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents. The court will consider several factors when determining custody, including the child’s age, relationship with each parent, ability to provide for the child’s needs, and any history of abuse or neglect.
Once custody is determined, the court will also determine the visitation schedule. This will consider the child’s age, the parents’ schedules, and the distance between the parents’ homes. Visitation schedules can range from every other weekend to a more extensive schedule, depending on the specific circumstances.
It’s important to note that custody and visitation orders are not set in stone. They can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a move, a job change, or if one parent is not following the order.
In conclusion, child custody and visitation can be complex and emotionally charged issues in family law. It’s important to understand the different types of custody and the factors the court considers when determining custody and visitation schedules. It’s also important to remember that custody and visitation orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances. Being informed and working with an attorney specializing in family law can help parents navigate this process more effectively.