Getting a divorce is never easy, and doing so when you have children adds a whole additional level of complexity. When getting a divorce with children, both parents must create a parenting plan, which includes determining what type of child custody each parent will have. There are several different types of custody, and you'll have to carefully consider your needs and wishes as a parent as well as what's in the best interests of your children in order to come up with the best possible solution. To help you get started with your parenting plan, our Cleburne divorce lawyer discusses the types of child custody in greater detail on this blog.
Physical & Legal Custody
In order to better understand child custody, we need to take a look at the two different ways a parent can have custody of a child. Physical custody is what most people imagine when they think of child custody; actually having the child in your possession and living with you, granting you the responsibility of caring for them. This also means you have the right to make simple decisions regarding your child's everyday needs. Parents can request temporary custody of their children during the divorce proceedings in order to care for them, but this does not necessarily influence the final child custody decision or agreement.
Legal custody is the ability to make important decisions regarding a child's upbringing and long-term plans. Where will they go to school? Will they be raised in a particular religion? Will they be allowed to participate in activities like sports or play an instrument? These are significant decisions regarding a child's welfare, and parents who are divorced must be granted a degree of legal custody in order to have a say in them.
Now that we understand these basic premises, we can learn a little more about different custody arrangements.
Sole & Joint Custody
The most common child custody arrangement is some form of joint custody, which means that both parents will have some sort of both physical and legal custody. While it may not be an even 50/50 split when it comes to visitation time with the children (that sort of arrangement is rarely feasible for both parents and leads to a fairly unstable life for children), the courts are often pre-disposed to making sure both parents stay involved in the lives of their children to the fullest possible extent. Both parents have a responsibility to raise their children, and the courts do their best to make sure that happens. Parents who determine their own custody will nearly always create a joint custody agreement so children spend time with both parents.
Sole custody arrangements are extremely rare, and usually only granted by the courts in situations where joint custody would be harmful to the children. Usually, in order for the courts to grant sole custody, the parent requesting custody must be able to demonstrate a history of drug and alcohol abuse, poor financial decisions, domestic violence, emotional abuse, or other serious problems that would be detrimental to children.
This is an exceedingly rare arrangement in which parents with multiple children make a decision to have one child live with one parent, and another child live with the other. Courts do everything they can to keep families together, and dividing children is only considered in select circumstances, mostly dependent on child preference and the child's age.
Let's look at an example in which split custody might be considered: a child is a star athlete in high school who is being recruited by several elite colleges when their parents decide to divorce. When the parent who requests child custody makes it clear they are going to move to the next town over, which would force that child to change schools and lose their spot on the sports team, the court may allow that child to remain with the other parent who is staying put in the family home. This will allow the older, athletic child to continue to pursue their best and brightest possible future.
Do you need assistance with your child custody matter as part of your divorce? Call The Law Office of Robert E. Lutterell, IIItoday at (817) 567-2899 and let us help you find the best possible solution for you and your family!