Child Custody: What You Need to Know
When a couple decides to get a divorce, the most important decision surrounds what is going to happen to any children involved. Parents often worry not only about making sure they are doing what is best for their child, but also about how much time they are going to get with their child. Join Heritage Law as we outline some of the basics when it comes to child custody.
Custody vs. Access
The term custody can be defined as the right to make major decisions about a child’s life, including health, education, welfare, etc. It also includes the right to physical care of the child.
On the other hand, access is defined as a spouse who has the right to make inquiries and to be given information about things like the child’s health, education, welfare, etc. A spouse who has been granted access is also entitled to some physical time with the child.
How is Custody Determined?
Generally, a child custody arrangement is decided amongst the parents themselves. Parents are often able to come to an agreement without any outside or formal help. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement by themselves, the next step would be to reach out for help from a mediator. Mediators offer a non-adversarial approach that is usually easier on the child.
If mediation doesn’t prove useful the court will then step in to make a decision. The court will look at a variety of factors before making their final decision, but their decision is always going to be based on what is in the best interests of the child.
If your custody case is heading to court, it’s a good idea to hire a family lawyer to help represent your case.
Different Types of Custody
There are two types of child custody, joint custody, and sole custody.
Sometimes known as shared custody, joint custody is when a child spends between 40%-60% of their time with each parent. Joint custody arrangements require a high level of cooperation between parents, and judges can often be reluctant to award joint custody unless both parents can demonstrate that they are still able to make joint decisions.
Sole custody is when a child spends more than 60% of their time with one parent. The other parent may or may not be granted visiting rights, which allow them to have contact with the child. This is the more common of the two type of custody, as many people believe that a child needs to have one home base to minimize disruption in their lives.
Looking For A Family Lawyer?
If you’re going through a divorce, the team at Heritage Law can help. With over 30 years of family law experience, you can trust our lawyers to help guide you through the divorce process.