Practice Areas / Family Law
During a divorce or separation, one of the more difficult aspects to handle is child custody. Because the household is being broken up, and the parents will be living in two separate homes, it’s important to come to an agreement regarding who has custody of the children and if the custody is shared, how.
Often times parents who split up are not on good terms with each other, and this stress can be felt by the children. Further adding to this stress is the idea of two parents at odds with each other trying to agree on where the children should live and who should make the decisions regarding their lives.
Because of the potential for disagreement, the courts have created a way to determine how to handle the welfare of the children involved without parents having to stress over the situation. This is referred to as “child custody.”
Who can get child custody
While the children involved in divorce and separation generally end up living with one or both of their birth parents, it’s possible at times for other adults to become their legal guardians and therefore gain custody. These adults can be siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even family friends under certain circumstances.
Types of child custody
There are various types of child custody that can be awarded to birth parents and guardians. First, there is legal custody, which determines who can make the legal decisions regarding the welfare of the children. This type of custody can include the decisions for where the child goes to school, what extra curricular activities the child can participate in, and preferences for medical care.
Then there is physical custody, which determines where the child lives. Physical custody can look different depending on each family’s individual circumstances like where the parents live in relationship to the school attended by the child. Physical custody includes the potential for joint custody which is an arrangement where the child spends time split between both parents’ homes.
Sometimes joint custody is split evenly, and sometimes it’s not. For example, if one parent lives in a city far from the child’s school, that parent may opt for weekend custody, while the other parent maintains custody during the school week.
Another common type of child custody is called sole custody and is an arrangement where one parent has full custody of the child. Sole custody is awarded mostly in cases where one parent is abusive or has been absent. In other words, sole custody is only awarded to a parent who has a track record of reliability.
How to get child custodyIf you’re in the middle of a divorce or separation and you have children, and are worried about their welfare and want help to make sure you do what’s best for your child and avoid any potential conflict with your former partner, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you through this often confusing and upsetting process, and make it easier for you and your children.