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Child custody refers to the arrangement for a child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual upbringing after his or her parents’ divorce. Child custody arrangements are also known as parenting plans. They are created by the court with the child’s best interest in mind. To determine the child’s best interest, the court uses a set of 12 factors to examine each parent’s fitness to nurture the child.
Child custody determination is only one part of the divorce process. If you are a parent going through the divorce process or considering filing for divorce, speak with an experienced divorce lawyer about what to expect from this part of the divorce process.
There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the household in which the child resides and legal custody refers to the right of the parent to make substantial decisions on the child’s behalf, such as decisions about his or her healthcare or his or her education.
Parents may be awarded joint custody in either or both categories or one parent may be granted sole custody in either or both categories. For example, the court may determine that it is in the child’s best interest for one parent to have sole physical custody with the parents splitting legal custody. When a parent does not have any physical custody of a child, he or she may have parenting time, also known as visitation.
Although the court ultimately makes child custody determinations, individuals known as Friends of the Court provide the court with insight into each divorcing couple’s lifestyle using the following 12 factors:
During the process of determining a parenting plan for your child after your divorce, your lawyer can work to ensure that your rights and interests are considered. He or she can also help you prepare for each meeting that comprises this process, such as a deposition or a psychological evaluation. Your lawyer can also help you obtain and use relevant pieces of evidence to support your claims, such as documentation showing your involvement in your child’s academic life from your child’s school.
To discuss the child custody determination process in greater detail with a member of our team of Washington Township child custody lawyers at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., contact our firm to schedule your initial legal consultation in our office.