Determining Child Custody
There are several factors, Courts use to determine how parties will share custody of their children. Today we will take a quick glance at the issues and topics related to child custody.
What is child custody?
There are two types of custody. The first type of custody is Sole Custody. Sole Custody is reserved for cases when there is little to no communication between the parties. If Sole Custody is granted, the parent awarded Sole Custody is not required to discuss the major decisions involving the child/children such as religion, schooling and health care. However, it should be noted that it is ALWAYS in the child/children’s best interest for both parents to coparent together for the benefit of the child/children.
Joint Custody is awarded in the majority of cases. The parties agree to put their child/children’s needs ABOVE their own differences and agree to work together to discuss and, hopefully, agree upon the major decisions involving the child/children as referenced above.
There are additional legal terms often utilized when determining Sole or Joint Custody. A residential parent is the parent who the children reside with, a majority of the time. A non-residential parent is the opposite. It refers to the parent who the child/children do not reside with, a majority of the time. The non-residential parent has a right to visitation/access schedule. That way the non-residential parent has set days/times for access. In matters involving a shared schedule, parties have equal time with the child/children. Commonly used with a shared arrangement is the term residential parent for purposes of schooling only. This address serves as the basis for which school district, where the bus picks up and drop off the child/children.
Age Of The Children:
Under the Tender Years Doctrine, the prevailing view WAS that children, particularly very young children, should be in the care of their mothers. This was the prevailing view among judges until about 2000. Since 2000, there is no presumption that one parent has preference over another. However, if the mother is still nursing, that could be a basis of why the child should be with the mother.
Parents Living Situation and the Need to Provide Stability and Continuity:
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when a child/children are involved. Maintaining the status quo is key when parties are separating. This is extremely important to avoid further trauma to the child/children. The parent who can display circumstances close to the same as pre-separation could have an advantage over the parent who cannot provide the status quo. Sometimes this means the parent staying in the same house and keeping the child/children in the same school district. This ensures that the day-to-day routines are largely intact. School friendships are a tremendous help to children whose parents are separating.
Just because an individual has requests a court to order visitation, it does not necessarily mean that visitation will be granted. Visitation can be withheld for good cause shown and/or it is in the best interest of the child to not have access with a parent. This can be for such reasons as the other parent’s substance abuse issues or physical abuse of the child.
A child or children is/are entitled to support until the age of 21 years. This is a completely separate issue from visitation/access and cannot be used as a basis to withhold access.
If You Need Help Determining Child Custody
At the LoTempio Law Group, our Family Law Attorneys have significant experience working with parents seeking to resolve custody issues. Please contact us for more information or visit our Family Law section to find out more about services we provide. You can also learn more here.
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