Best Interests & Steps Toward a Resolution – Child Custody
When a divorce involves children, likely the most important issue is the custody of the children. The hope is that the divorcing parents can reach a resolution that is in the best interests of the children. Often, however, parents can have dramatically different ideas as to the appropriate arrangements for the children.
The basic test the courts will apply to determine custody is what is in the “best interests” of the children. The judge may take into account many factors, including such issues as which parent has been the primary caretaker of the child, the work schedules of the parents, whether a parent has drug, alcohol or psychological problems, and whether a parent is relocating.
Child Custody: Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
Some terms regarding custody can be confusing. Basically, there are two main areas of custody. The first area is legal custody. This is best understood as having the fundamental legal rights to the child, including the right to obtain medical records and school records, the rights of inheritance, and the other basic parenting rights. Except for limited situations, usually involving abuse or extremely poor parenting, a judge will typically award both parents joint legal custody.
One of the more difficult aspects of legal custody is determining the final decision-making authority for the children. The court divides the decision areas into education, medical, extracurricular, and religion. While it is usually determined that the parents must confer on these issues, the court will decide which parent will be the final decision maker in each of these four areas.
The second area of custody is physical custody. This is typically what most people think of when they think of custody. While you may hear terms such as joint, sole and primary, the real determination here is parenting time. With very limited exceptions, the court requires that all the parenting time with the children be detailed in any order or agreement. In other words, it will need to be determined where the children will be spending their time. The options here are nearly limitless and depend on the schedules and living arrangements of the parents. If the parents are willing to live in close proximity and are willing to co-parent, the court may determine that the children spend equal time with both parents. In many cases, the parents or the court decides that an alternating weekend arrangement for one of the parents is more appropriate.
Gwinnett Child Custody Attorneys
Each family is different and the challenges each parent faces are unique. The resolution of child custody disputes is often complicated and the details can be very important in how your children transition through this very difficult time in their lives. Our firm has experienced and knowledgeable attorneys who can assist you resolve child custody disputes. With more than 20 years of combined experience, the attorneys of Spooner and Associates have helped parents find a solution to this difficult issue. We will help you find the resolution that is in the best interests of both you and your children.