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When a couple with children divorces, determining a fair, appropriate custody arrangement for their children is an important part of their divorce. The term “child custody” refers to the rights and responsibilities of a parent to provide for his or her children by making decisions on his or her behalf and providing food, shelter, and support. A parenting time agreement is a court-ordered schedule for parents to follow to ensure that the child maintains a consistent relationship with them each, and child support is money paid from one parent to the other to help with the costs of providing for the child. All of these are important issues to discuss with your attorney as you move through the divorce process.
There are two types of custody that must be determined for each child: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is the responsibility to provide a home and all that comes with housing a child. This includes meals, household items, and the day-to-day involvement a parent has in his or her child’s life, such as helping with homework and transporting the child to and from school.
Legal custody is the responsibility of making important decisions on a child’s behalf, such as those about his or her education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
Both types of custody can be held jointly or solely. When a parent has sole custody of his or her child, he or she handles all of the responsibilities associated with that type of custody alone. For example, if a parent has sole physical custody of his or her child, the child lives in that parent’s home every day. In a situation like this, the other parent may have parenting time with the child.
When parents have joint custody, they both hold the responsibilities associated with it. For example, parents who have joint legal custody of their child must work together to make decisions on the child’s behalf. It is possible for parents to have joint physical custody while one has sole legal custody or vice versa.
The court makes determinations about a child’s custody arrangement based on what it feels is in the child’s best interest. Often, this is done using recommendations from a Friend of the Court.
Issues considered to determine the arrangement that best suits a child’s needs include:
Other factors may be considered as well, such as any history of domestic violence or criminal activity.
If you are a parent going through a divorce, it is important that you work with an experienced child custody attorney to act as your advocate. You have as much of a right to your child as your former spouse has, regardless of your gender. To learn more about your parental rights and how to assert them in court, schedule your free legal consultation with our team of child custody attorneys at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C.