Child custody agreements can be a point of contention in divorce proceedings. Most parents are understandably protective of their time and relationship with their children. When it comes to physical and legal custody, you may be unsure how to best proceed to ensure your children’s best interests are secured.
Understanding the different forms of child custody in Guilford can be overwhelming. A seasoned child custody attorney can help you pursue an arrangement that makes sense for you and your children.
Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, including medical, educational, religious, and extracurricular activities. In most cases, parents will share joint legal custody, meaning they have to consult one another and make decisions together about their children. A court can award final decision-making authority to only one parent if the two parties are incapable of effectively communicating and reaching decisions together about a child. With final decision-making, both parents must still attempt to discuss issues and arrive at an agreement, but in the event of an impasse, one parent has the right to make the final decision.
When a parent wants to maintain joint legal custody, they need to be able to communicate constructively with the other parent. Both parties need to be respectful of one another and respond in a timely manner. They must be willing to agree on what is in the child’s best interest.
Legal custody is separate from the physical custody of the child. One parent having final decision-making authority does not mean the other parent cannot have visitation with a child. A Guilford attorney can help a parent handle any form of legal child custody agreements.
Physical custody concerns where a child will live each day of the week and, thereby, which parent has physical responsibility for the child on a given day. A court will decide physical custody if the parties cannot agree upon a schedule themselves.
Shared physical has become a more common arrangement when feasible based on the parents’ work schedule, availability, and proximity to one another. A court will consider a child’s transitions to each home and a parent’s ability to take them to school and other activities. If one parent lives far away from the children’s school, thereby requiring significant travel for the child on a daily basis, a court is less likely to approve a shared arrangement.
Primary physical custody involves a child living mainly with one parent and having certain days and times, including overnights, when they visit with the other parent. Primary residence is typical when work or other commitments prevent a parent from living near where the children go to school. In comparison, a child will spend roughly equal time with both parents in a shared physical custody arrangement. In Guilford, when both parents had an active role in a child’s life before a separation, live close to one another, and there are no parenting concerns, it is common to see shared physical rather than primary physical custody arrangements being ordered.
In a scenario where one parent is ordered to have sole legal and primary physical custody, and there is no visitation schedule articulated for the other parent, the custodial parent has the right to make all decisions regarding a child without any requirement to consult with the other and determines whether the other parent can have access to the other child, and if so under what terms. The other parent has essentially no rights to their child. This type of custody agreement is rare. It generally occurs when the other parent has been completely uninvolved in a child’s life for many years, or there are substantial allegations of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or threats of harm to a child. A judge could find the other parent poses such a threat to a child and that it is in their best interest to have no contact with that parent. Even though it is unusual, a knowledgeable lawyer in Guilford can help navigate this form of child custody.
Hiring an attorney for custody situations is beneficial because parents have fundamental rights to their children. Our dedicated legal team wants to protect your rights throughout the process. A legal advocate can define a custody agreement that is best for your child. Understanding all forms of child custody in Guilford can prepare you to create an appropriate agreement. Contact our team today to review your custody options.