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A child custody arrangement, also known as a parenting plan, is a court order that states how a divorced couple will divide parenting time and duties with their child after their divorce. The court makes its determination by examining many aspects of each parent’s life as well as the child’s life. By examining these, the court decides an arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. In most, but not all, cases, the court determines that shared custody is in the child’s best interest.
There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Every parenting plan involves both.
Physical custody is the role of providing a home for one’s child. In this role, the custodial parent also provides food, household goods, and utilities. Legal custody is the role of making decisions on the child’s behalf. These are the “big” decisions in a child’s life, such as determining if the child will wear braces and choosing the child’s school.
Both types of custody can be held solely by one parent or jointly between the two. The court makes separate determinations for both types of custody. For example, it may decide that it is in a child’s best interest for the parents to have joint custody in both categories or that it would be best for one parent to have sole custody in one category, but the parents to have joint custody in the other.
There are 12 factors in place to aid the court in determining an appropriate parenting plan for a child:
To examine these factors, the court works with individuals known as Friends of the Court.
During the custody determination process, you may be asked to undergo a psychological evaluation or present evidence that demonstrates your fitness as a parent. Your lawyer can walk you through each of these requests and help you prepare for them adequately, either by discussing the questions you may face during an evaluation or by helping you obtain the documents you need. Your lawyer can also guide you through each step of the divorce process and help you decide the right way to handle any issues that arise.
Our team of Royal Oak child custody lawyers at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C. can answer any questions you have about child custody and other parts of the divorce process. To get started with a member of our firm, contact our office today to schedule your initial legal consultation with us.