Not so long ago, parents who were no longer romantically involved were faced with the reality that one parent would likely assume either sole or significant primary custody of their children. The other parent would generally either be given limited custody rights or visitation rights. Thankfully, the American court system has evolved in recent years in ways that more accurately reflect the reality that no two families are alike. Child custody and parenting arrangements are now structured in ways that are relatively unique to each family. This is an important development in the American legal system and helps to ensure that a child’s best interests are more faithfully upheld.
With that said, the variety of child custody and parenting arrangements available can be confusing and a little frustrating to navigate. If your family is facing a child custody determination situation in the wake of a romantic split with your child’s other parent, please do not hesitate to speak with an experienced family law attorney about your legal options. Once an attorney learns more about your family’s unique situation, you can ask any questions you may have and start exploring which kind of custody and parenting arrangements may best serve your child’s best interests.
Child Custody Terminology Basics
It is important to understand that most states make a distinction between legal and physical custody. Legal custody (sole or joint/shared) allows parents to make major decisions on behalf of their children. By contrast, physical custody (sole or joint/shared) refers to a child’s parent of residence. In general, if a parent has sole physical custody, that parent’s child lives with them, save for (possibly) limited visitation with the other parent. Joint/shared physical custody means that the child spends some significant time residing with each parent over the course of the year.
It is possible to share legal custody and divide physical custody in a number of ways. For example, a child may reside with one parent during the summer and another during the school year. Or a child may reside with one parent every other week. As long as a child custody schedule does not negatively impact a child’s best interests, parents may generally construct whatever kind of parenting schedule works for them. If parents cannot agree on a joint custody schedule, a judge will need to make a determination based upon his or her perception of the affected child’s best interests.
Child Custody Assistance Is Available
If you have questions about child custody determinations and/or constructing parenting agreements, please consider connecting with an experienced family law attorney today. Your family is unique and your child’s best interests are unique. With that said, the law does place some restrictions on how your child custody determinations may be structured in the wake of a romantic split. As a result, it is important to speak with a lawyer before making assumptions about what your child custody divisions and parenting agreements should look like. Once you have received experienced legal guidance, you and your child custody lawyer in Rockville, MD can craft a strategy for how you and your family may emerge in healthy ways from a child custody determination challenge.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and how child custody is divided.