One of the most important things decided during a divorce is which parent will have custody of the couple’s children. Sometimes this is decided easily and cooperatively between the parents, but it can also be a complicated and difficult process. A child custody lawyer can help you understand all of the different child custody options that are available to you.
How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help Me?
A child custody lawyer can help you evaluate your situation and determine which of the four major types of child custody arrangements is best for your family.
Joint Legal Custody
Having joint legal custody of a child means that you are both able to make important decisions regarding the child’s health and well being. When both parents share joint legal custody of a child, they have an equal say in these decisions, which can involve the child’s medical care, education, or religious upbringing. Joint legal custody is very common following a divorce, and can be effective as long as the parents can work together in the child’s best interest.
Sole Legal Custody
In situations where one parent feels that only they should be able to make important decisions for the child, they can seek sole legal custody. This can occur if the other parent has been physically or emotionally abusive, has a problem with drugs or alcohol, has a history of mental illness, or is otherwise unfit. Sometimes the other parent will surrender their legal custody willingly, and no court hearing will be necessary. Otherwise, obtaining sole legal custody can be a difficult and lengthy legal process.
Joint Physical Custody
Two parents with joint physical custody of a child are both allowed to have the child live with them. In this scenario, the child takes turns living with each parent according to a predetermined schedule, such as spending every other week or month with each parent. This works best if the two parents live near each other, so the child’s schooling will not be interrupted. Joint physical custody can have several benefits, including a reduced burden on each parent and an easier post-divorce transition for the child.
Sole Physical Custody
If a parent obtains sole physical custody of a child, the child is only allowed to live with that parent. This parent is sometimes called the custodial parent or primary caregiver. The other parent, or noncustodial parent, can still share joint legal custody of the child, and is usually allowed parenting time, or visitation, according to a predetermined schedule.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Today
Ultimately, the child’s best interest is the key factor in a child custody ruling. Determining where your child will live after a divorce and who will be able to make decisions regarding their health and well-being is very important, and requires the help of experienced legal counsel. Contact Himelman & Himelman today to discuss your options regarding child custody.