Going through a divorce can be traumatizing for both spouses, but when children are caught in the middle, they are the ones who often suffer the most. Too often, the children become a tool to fight the other spouse and to cause them pain. If both spouses are willing to take the children’s best interest to heart and treat them as their top priority, custody wouldn’t be such a difficult issue to deal with. Unfortunately, even though “putting the kids first” is the ideal, it doesn’t always happen.
If you know the child custody rules before you go to court, you will be better prepared for the outcome of your child custody battle. Although having a competent attorney to represent your rights is a necessity, you shouldn’t count on him for every aspect of your case. Keep documentation of every minute each of you spends with your child and every cent that you spend to support them.
Although child custody rules may vary by state, there are some things that are pretty much the same no matter where you live. Unless there are serious reasons that a judge will consider not giving custody to one parent, you will most like get joint custody. You should also understand that there are two separate types of custody.
Legal custody awards you the right to make important decisions about your child’s life. These decisions include health care, safety, education, and religious upbringing. If one parent has sole legal custody, then that parent will make all of these decisions alone. Joint legal custody means that both parents will share in the decision making.
Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to where the children will live. Sole physical custody requires that the child will live with one parent and visit the other parent. If both parents share in joint physical custody, one parent has custody of the child more than half of the time and is the primary custodial parent.
Visitation is another aspect of child custody rules that will be determined in court. Unsupervised visitation is granted to the parent who is not the primary custodial parent and allows the parent to visit the child without the other parent or other supervisor being present. Supervised visitation is used when there is a reason for concern for a child’s or children’s safety and well-being. While the other parent is visiting the child, they must be supervised by you or another adult. Visitation will not be granted in cases where the parent might inflict emotional or physical injury on the child.
You should also learn the child custody rules that are specific to your state. Keep in mind that you should put the safety and well-being of the children first when trying to work out any custody agreement.