Coming to a child custody agreement can often be an extremely difficult process for the parents involved. Having the right attorney on your side advocating for your interests and the best interests of your children can help take away a lot of the stress and bring about a more favorable resolution.
When many parents hear the term child custody, they automatically think they want full custody. However, in actuality there is no such thing as “full custody” and are actually two types of custody involved.
Having legal custody of your children means that you are responsible for making decisions about the important things in their lives, for example where they go to school, what religious instruction they receive, whether they need academic tutoring or psychological counseling, and when they go to the doctor. Often times, most parents will share legal custody of their children. This is called having joint legal custody, which entails contacting the other person, and working with them to make any important decisions regarding the abovementioned issues.
Joint legal custody is usually agreed upon by both parents or awarded by the courts. However it can definitely be an issue that many parents end up in court for. Sometimes parents can’t agree where to send the child to school, or whether they should participate in an extracurricular activity. It will only take one parent to create ongoing conflict over this type of question, and it can make life miserable for everyone if every decision becomes a fight.
If parents seem to be fighting over every question related to their kids, the most common solution is for the judge to give one parent sole legal custody, usually the more reasonable parent. That parent then has the sole right to make decisions about the children’s welfare. A judge might also grant sole legal custody if one parent:
- Lives a great distance away, making them unable to be actively involved in the child’s life
- Is neglectful or abusive
- Is unable to make decisions for the child that are in the child’s best interest or
- Isn’t involved in the child’s day-to-day life and doesn’t spend time with the child.
Physical custody refers to where the children live on a regular basis and where they spend a majority of their time. Physical Custody can be joint or granted to just one parent. The other parent would then have visitation of the children. Just because one parent has full physical custody doesn’t mean the other parent is not involved. It just means that the children spend more time at one parent’s house over the others.
Ordering a visitation schedule or granting custody is one of the most litigated issues in family law court. In situations like this, the judge must decide what is in the best interest of the child. This involves taking into consideration the child’ wishes (this is only taken into consideration if the child is of a certain age and maturity level), which parent is more likely to be accommodating to frequent visits from the other parent, and whether there is a history of drug use or domestic violence.
The court also has the option of granting custody to a third-party custodian if they feel the child will be in danger in the hands of a parent, or if being with a third-party custodian best serves the child’s interests.
You are likely thinking that a lot of these points are very subjective, and you are right. Having the right attorney who knows your case and fights on your behalf goes a long way. At the Foothill Law Group, we have the skill and experience required to offer you the very best counsel and support through this process. We know what the judges are looking for when ordering custody and visitation schedules and we will convey this to them to get an order that is in your child’s best interest.