Child custody is a vital issue that can have significant consequences for divorced parents and their children. It is also an issue that is unique to each family and requires careful consideration. The law governing child custody varies from state to state, and it is usually determined by the court handling the divorce or separation proceedings. However, there are a number of common issues that may arise with custody and visitation matters.
Generally, courts prefer arrangements that allow both parents to play an active role in a child’s life. In order to obtain this type of arrangement, the courts will review a variety of factors, such as each parent’s ability to provide a stable home, employment schedules, childcare arrangements and the child’s preference, if appropriate. In addition, courts will look at the history of domestic violence or abuse by either parent as well as evidence that a child is being neglected or abused.
In most cases, the court will grant both parents joint legal custody rights unless there is evidence that one of the parties lacks this ability. Joint legal custody provides both parents with decision-making authority, while the court will decide where the child will live and on a visitation schedule. This is different than physical custody, where a child will live primarily with one parent and spend time with the other.
Special needs children require particular attention in the custody process. For example, a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may have difficulty adapting to new situations and household changes. In such a situation, the court will propose a custody arrangement that offers the greatest degree of stability and consistency.
Parents who do not agree on a custody and visitation plan often participate in mediation sessions to discuss their differences. While this can be difficult, it is a necessary step to reaching a resolution. A skilled attorney can help parents negotiate a child custody agreement that both parties can live with.
It is also important for both parents to remember that a child’s best interests are always the primary focus. Taking this into account will ensure that the final custody and visitation arrangement is in line with the child’s specific needs.
Finally, it is essential to understand that even opening a custody case can be stressful and expensive. As such, it is best to work with a qualified and experienced attorney from the very beginning of the process. This can prevent the need to file an emergency motion for custody, and can ensure that all required paperwork is completed properly. Moreover, it can save both parents time and money in the long run. Contact an experienced divorce and family law attorney today to get started on your custody matter. Taking these steps early in the process can make all the difference in the outcome of your child custody case.