Do you know the differences between custody and co-parenting? Do you know how a lawyer can help?
When going through a divorce or separation, all parties involved go through a hard time, but it is always the children that suffer the most. Sometimes the adults are so caught up in their rage they fail to notice the effects the divorce is having on their kids. They also often forget to consider how the arrangements they make will affect their children for many years to come.
If you’re going through a divorce and want what’s best for your children, you should look up a divorce lawyer that is well-versed in child custody issues. Custody laws vary from state to state, but here are a few facts to help you understand what your options are.
Parents embroiled in a bitter divorce often want to cut out their partner from the lives of their children. Unless we’re talking about an abusive parent, this will likely negatively affect the children who do not share your reasons to hate the other parent.
The first thing you need to understand is that there are in fact two types of custody – physical and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where the children will live. This can be sole physical custody or joint legal custody. If one parent gets sole physical custody the child’s primary residence will be with that parent. The other parent will have visitation rights, get the children to stay over the weekend or during holidays. Joint physical custody means that the children will split their time between their two parents, spending an equal amount of time with either.
Legal custody refers to who is going to make the important decisions concerning the child, everything related to their education and health needs. Once again, legal custody can be sole – when one parent gets to make the decisions, or joint- when they need to agree on the important aspects of their children’s lives.
If one parent gets full physical custody this does not mean that they automatically get full legal custody of the children.
Co-parenting is a type of joint custody, and this refers to both the physical and the legal aspects. Basically, the parents will get to spend an equal amount of time with the kids and will be equally involved in all important decisions. For instance, in a co-parenting agreement, both parents have equal access to the kid’s medical or school records.
For a co-parenting agreement to work it is essential that the two parents put aside all bitterness and recriminations and decide to work as a team. This type of agreement makes it easier for the parents to arrange drop-offs and manage the time spent with the kids. Rather than follow a strict court order, the parents can trade off, like having the children stay with the other parent for two weeks rather than having them change houses every week, and so on.
Parents going through a divorce should sit down with a custody lawyer to understand what’s at stake. Most lawyers will advise against seeking sole custody as this can get very messy and very traumatic for the children.
Also, an experienced family law lawyer will explain why parents should come to an agreement out of court. If the parents keep fighting over the children and the matter ends up in court, it is the judge that decides the children’s fate and it may very well be that neither parent is happy with that decision.
If you are going through a divorce, whether you agree on child custody arrangements or not, it can be advisable to seek legal counsel. Get in touch with Hankey Law Firm for any assistance you may need!