Divorces can be taxing enough when it’s just you and your spouse, and adding children to the mix can be more than simply stressful. The thought of losing your custody or visitation rights can be heartbreaking, and everyone hopes that both parents are putting their child first. It is often in the child’s best interest to keep as steady a living situation as possible, but also to have direct and consistent contact with both parents. Finding a solution to these issues can be immensely difficult without the help of an attorney, especially if the separation was painful or talking with your ex-spouse would be more than uncomfortable. You know what is best for your child, but the legal process of divorce, not to mention custody and visitation right battles, is complicated and can sometimes drown either parent out.
Our experienced attorneys know how to reach a fair agreement that doesn’t infringe upon your parental rights. You already know how to fight passionately for your child; let a lawyer from BB Law Group PLLC fight with you. We’ll not only make sure your voice is heard, but we’ll ensure that the process is as quick and stress-free as possible so you can get back to raising your child and making sure that they’re taken care of during the ordeal.
How We Can Help
It’s an unfortunate reality that these legal battles are sometimes necessary. Both parents will fight tooth and nail for the primary or sole custody of their children, even though it’s proven that the active involvement of both parents is crucial to the development of a child. With that being said, the rights you hold as a parent are extremely important, and you’ll know best how your child will be safe and happy. In a discussion about custody, our main goal is to ensure that the decision is fair to both you and your child.
Many parents who have had to go through a legal battle concerning custody know that it’s not always so black and white. What is true at the time of your divorce may not be true in two years time. If there are major changes to your relationship with your child’s other parent or the child’s health and well-being, modifications will need to be made. If a parent is refusing to cooperate after a deal was set, legal intervention may be the only option you have. Some of these cases related to child custody and visitation cases that we can help with include:
- Modifications to child custody
- Modifications to visitation agreements
- Enforcing custody / visitation agreements
No one should come between a parent and their child, and your parental rights should never be downplayed or denied. We are equipped to handle your case and we will help you get the custody and visitation rights that you deserve. Ensuring that both parents have fair visitation rights that are simultaneously beneficial to your child is of the utmost importance. Don’t settle for an attorney who won’t work to make this a reality.
How to Navigate Custody Terms
It can be massively beneficial to you, as a parent, to know exactly what some custody terms mean. Whether you’re confused about the exact definition of each term or how you should handle the decisions that are made, having a knowledgeable attorney by your side can help.
Joint and Sole Custody
A good way to ensure stability in the future of your child’s life is a joint custody agreement where both parents share the custody of their child. If both parents are willing to put in the work and care to ensure their child is raised according to their parental values a joint custody agreement may be the solution. In a joint custody agreement child support is not applicable since the child ideally spends an equal amount of time with both parents.
However there are some cases where sole custody of a child should be pursued. It is important to know that there are two types of sole custody:
- Sole Legal Custody: All crucial decisions in a child’s life including welfare, education, and medical care all fall under the parental right of one parent.
- Sole Physical Custody: The child will be physically living with one parent. Visitation is subject to the court depending on the ruling.
In most cases, a single parent will have both sole physical and legal custody. However, in either case, the noncustodial party may have visitation rights and an obligation to pay child support—depending on the ruling of the court. The legal system surrounding custody can be complicated, and fighting for sole custody and navigating the legal paperwork can be difficult.
In order to ensure that the child receives adequate care and attention from both parents, courts may denote one of the parents as the non-custodial parent. This just means that the child spends a majority of their time with the other, custodial parent. The court recognizes that in order to have a stable childhood, both parents need to be present to some degree in their child’s life. Visitation rights are a way to establish a steady relationship between a child and noncustodial parent. There are many factors that lead to a court decision denoting one of the parents as the non-custodial parent, they include:
- How far away the noncustodial parent lives compared to the child’s schooling
- When did the noncustodial parent start fighting for visitation rights
- Any abuse history by the side of the noncustodial parent
It is important to keep in mind that the courts will not consider certain factors in their ruling of the noncustodial parent. These factors include: remarriage, employment, and child support payments.
Determining Physical Custody
There are two primary types of child custody: legal and physical. Many people get these two forms of custody confused, but legal custody refers to which parents can make decisions that affect a child, while physical custody, which is the most well-known form of custody, refers to which parent with whom a child primarily lives. While courts are usually primarily concerned with the child’s best interests, there can be many factors which are taken into account when determining physical custody.
Unless there are special circumstances that make one parent unfit to have legal custody over a child, then both parents will usually be granted custody of the child. However, there are certain circumstances which may lead to a judge granting limited physical custody, or none at all, to one parent. Such factors can include:
- The wishes of the child
- The respective incomes of each parent
- The living situations / location of homes of each parent
- The reason for the divorce
When both parents are not granted joint physical custody, it is likely due to these common reasons.
Parental Relocation and Child Custody
Establishing a child custody agreement that works for everyone involved can be one of the most difficult and heartbreaking aspects of any divorce. The process can become even more confusing when one parent decides to relocate. Regardless of the reason for moving, a parent’s decision to relocate can have an impact on a court’s decision regarding child custody arrangements.
Cases in which one parent feels that the other’s decision to move away may negatively affect their child will often prompt additional scrutiny from a judge regarding the final custody agreement. Along with the child’s well-being, there are a number of factors that courts will take into consideration when deliberating over a case in which a parent wants to move away.
Court Elements Of Granting A Move-away Order
Some situational elements that courts will consider in cases involving parental relocation include:
- Age of the child
- Community ties
- Special educational needs
- Health needs
- Distance of move and reason for move
- Child’s preference, when appropriate
Parental relocation cases and move-away orders are often far more involved than divorcing parents may anticipate. There are certain steps a parent wanting to relocate must take in order to avoid legal ramifications. Even if both parents agree to the move, changes in the existing child custody arrangement may be necessary to accommodate the relocation.
How Remarriage Can Affect Your Child Custody Agreement
As parents move on after a divorce, many decide to remarry. Due to the sensitive nature of custody agreements, it is very common for individuals to be concerned with how remarriage can impact these arrangements. Custody agreements do not typically change following remarriage of one of both former spouses, but under certain circumstances the terms of the agreement may change. Overall, the custody agreement may change depending on how the new living arrangement of either the custodial or non-custodial parent will affect the child(ren) involved.
Custody can be awarded to one parent with visitation allowed for the other, or it can be joint custody in which both parents are involved in making decisions for the child. In joint physical custody, both parents will have to agree upon and adhere to a scheduling arrangement that works for everyone and best fits the child’s needs. Remarriage can certainly impact your schedule, and it will therefore certainly be a consideration in determining a change in custody agreements. A few considerations involving remarriage that could lead a judge to make changes to your custody agreement are as follows:
- Whether the new marriage has any negative impact on the child’s relationship to either parent,
- Whether the new marriage endangers the child in any way, or
- Whether the new marriage provides a positive impact on the child.
The court will always strive to make decisions that create the best possible situation for your child, so this is the primary factor when determining what effect your new relationship will have on your custody and visitation agreements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Going through a custody battle is stressful and often chaotic. There is a lot of uncertainty, but overall you want to be there for your child. When it comes to your questions about your parental rights to custody and visitation, you’ll find that many answers will be unique to your case. However, we receive a few very common questions from parents going through a custody case and have compiled them for your convenience.
How can I explain my divorce to my child?
When it comes to educating your child about your divorce, it’s best to talk with them preemptively, rather than waiting for them to come to you with questions. An immediate discussion can help calm many fears, and it’s important to have a dialogue with your child, not a lecture. The topic may come as a shock to your child, and they may not want to know details until later. It’s best to let your child have plenty of room to be upset—let them know that you’re there and able to explain anything to them. Try to answer their questions as openly and honestly as possible. Having your spouse with you can help to ensure that neither of you is leaving your child’s life.
Do I need an attorney if my spouse and I agree on the terms of custody?
It’s in yours and your spouse’s best interest to hire an attorney. If you agree completely on all of the terms, you can hire just a single lawyer, which is less expensive and will be more efficient. However, what is an agreement today may come up as a disagreement later, and it’s good to have everything in writing so that you can distinguish a set agreement from a false memory or deception. An attorney or mediator can create a legally-binding document that you can use to enforce visitation, custody, or even support agreements.
What are the top factors considered when determining child custody?
Every state in the United States uses a “best interest of the child” standard when custody is disputed. Although this standard sounds quite broad and offers a judge a fair amount of discretion in deciding a case, there are still several common factors that a judge will consider when determining who gets custody of a child.
Here are some of the factors that a court will typically take into account:
- In some cases, depending on the age of the child or children, the judge will take their preference into account regarding who they’d like to live with. This usually only applies if the child is at least twelve or older. If the children are young, that increases the likelihood that their mother will be given custody since judges commonly believe that young children should be with their mothers.
- A judge will consider the relationship between the two former spouses and whether or not they are both willing to cooperate with one another. Some parents talk badly about their former spouse around their children and even attempt to alienate them from the other parent. A court would not look kindly on this type of behavior and is much more likely to award custody to the parent who is trying to make the arrangement work.
Moving Out of State
- In most cases, a parent cannot just move a child to another state without first getting approval from the judge in the original custody case. The punishment for doing so without a court order can be severe. But if one parent decides to move out of state, and the other parent agrees to the relocation, both parents can go back to court and attempt to modify the original arrangement. The judge will weigh whether or not the new arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
- Being in a custody battle with someone who is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction can be heartbreaking. But if one parent is abusing drugs and alcohol, then the other parent must prove that to a judge. Otherwise, it can turn into a battle of hearsay. There are many ways to provide evidence of drug or alcohol abuse in court. One is to document any instances of drug or alcohol abuse or to speak to other people who also may have witnessed the abuse first-hand. Providing evidence of drug arrests or DUI convictions can also strongly influence a judge’s decision.
- If there is any evidence that a parent has physically abused or neglected their child or children, a judge will take that into consideration when determining child custody. Even one single episode of physical abuse can severely impact a parent’s ability to get custody. If a protective order has been issued against the parent in the past, the judge will look at that as well.
- Although parental employment is something the judge will take into consideration when determining custody, employment is not the most important factor. A parent cannot lose custody of their child simply because they are unemployed. However, the ability of a parent to provide for their children is certainly a consideration. Ultimately, the judge will make their decision based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child.
Why should I choose BB Law Group PLLC?
The BB Law Group PLLC is one of the most trusted names in family law. Since formation, our attorneys have dedicated themselves to family law, so you can trust that we have the experience you need. We pride ourselves on our personalized style, enabling us to fight based on your unique situation and desires. Our previous clients agree: we’re a friendly firm, dedicated to protecting your parental rights and ensuring that your children stay safe.
Let Us Help You
Child custody disagreements are never easy and you shouldn’t have settle for an unfair decision, especially when it comes to your child. The attorneys at BB Law Group PLLC, are dedicated to making sure that your parental rights are heard during a custody battle. Don’t let your child grow up under visitation and custodial rights you didn’t agree to. Contact us at (832) 534-2589 to get started.