What is meant when people discuss custody? Well, there’s the kind of custody you hear about on the news when someone is “taken into custody”, but what does it mean in regards to divorce? If you have children, this term is one that can dramatically impact the course of your life. Let’s discuss.
Custody, as it pertains to you and your children, involves where the children live and who takes care of them. It sounds simple, but there are degrees of custody. One kind of custody is sole custody, which is where one parent primarily cares for the child and makes most of the decisions surrounding the child, while the other parent has visitation rights and standard parental rights. The other, preferred by the judge because it’s usually in the best interest of the child, is joint custody. During joint custody, both parents get an equal amount of time and decision-making when it comes to the child.
Judges prefer joint custody because, except for certain circumstances, the child benefits emotionally and physically from spending time with both parents. Ideally, a child lives in a home with two parents who care for them. Joint custody seeks to offer aspects of this environment after a divorce occurs. Follow the standard arrangement if you can, but some parents prefer to work a different schedule out when they are deciding things with their lawyers. Whatever you decide, make sure it makes the best of a difficult situation and always put the needs of the children first.
Don’t change anything after the divorce is finalized unless it’s decided in the court. The problem with changing visitation on your own is that if anything were to go wrong, you could be in contempt of court. Contempt means the failure to comply with a court order. The result can be a fine or jail time. Either way, it’s best to adhere to the court order.
Custody is one of the most important issues a divorcing couple faces. Don’t rush any decisions, and work with your lawyers to satisfy your own needs as a parent and the needs of your children. Consider their emotional well-being before your own, but don’t neglect your intuition.
Make sure you fully understand the differences in custodial arrangements. Don’t be bullied into settling before you know what is best for the child. Know your terms and your rights.
We’re here to help you sort any of the issues. It’s about to get better.