As the process of a divorce starts, many people may have questions about custody. Some may have questions about logistics involving custody schedules, while others may have questions about some of the emotional aspects of the process. Here are questions to ask a divorce attorney about custody to help you through the process.
Depending on the state of the parent’s relationship, they may tell the child together or separately that they have decided to divorce. It is best for the parents to coordinate giving this information about the divorce to their child. A significant event like divorce has the potential of shattering the child’s world, whether they are toddlers or teens. The situation may be confusing for the child, so it is very important, to be honest with the child. Parents should explain to the child that they are separating households in clear, precise words that the child can understand based on age. The parents must let the child know that even though they won’t be living in the same house together all the time, both parents love the child and that all the child’s needs will always be met.
Parents should consider the mindset of the child and the difficulties the child may have in adjusting and transitioning between two houses. For example, some children may do better living primarily with one parent, while others will want to spend equal time with both parents. A custody schedule that both parents agree upon and create with their child’s needs and best interest in mind is what is best for the child’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
Some questions to ask a divorce attorney about custody involve different aspects. There are two sides to child custody. The first side is legal custody. Legal custody is focused on religious, medical, and educational decisions concerning children. Parents may share legal custody, where both parents must consult with one another about major religious, medical, and educational decisions concerning children. Or one parent may have sole legal custody with the right to make major decisions concerning religions, medical or educational issues without consulting with the other parent.
The other side of custody is physical custody. Physical custody is a schedule that determines when the child spends time with each parent.
A parent could have sole, primary, or partial/shared physical custody. In this case, one parent has the child most of the time, and the other parent has the child for lesser periods, such as alternate weekends or one night a week for dinner or overnight.
A parent’s time with the child may also be required to occur in the presence of a third party or supervised custody. In this scenario, one parent has the child most of the time, and the other parent may only see the child for short periods of time in the presence of a paid supervisor such as a social worker or a trusted family member.
Finally, both parents can have joint physical custody of the child where the child spends equal time with both parents. In this situation, parents may alternate time with the child on an alternating week-to-week schedule or a split-week schedule. For example, this schedule may have parents alternating weekends for 1 to 3 days at a time and sharing the week, whereby each parent may have the child alternating 2 to 3 or 4 to 5 days at a time.
Which schedule works best for the children can be decided by the parents or by the courts. Hopefully, since you and your co-parent know your child better than any judge will, you will work together to create the best possible schedule for your child. Suppose you don’t think that the two of you can reach that decision together on your own. In that case, a mediator can help facilitate conversations to help the two of you reach a mutually agreed-upon schedule that works best for your children.
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.