Child Custody

Child custody in divorce and paternity cases is an entire section of it own. Judges want several questions answered and this leads to many debates as it affects child support, your job / family / future / holidays and believe it or not your emotional well being and the child’s well being.

The typical argument starts when one parent says “I want sole custody” then goes down hill quickly. The reality is: it’s not that simple @#%#$%

This is intended to be general information not legal advise.

Sole / Joint

There are two terms to custody

  • Sole – Make most all decisions – well not really
  • Joint – Both make decisions (50/50) – well not really

Physical / Legal

There are two parts to custody

  • Physical – The actual control of the child’s body
  • Legal – The making of decisions and signing documents

Supervised visits and “no Over Night” does NOT necessarily mean you can’t have joint custody and can’t have time with the child.

Sole custody does not exempt you from paying child support and really does not effect the amount.  Joint custody does not mean you have to be consulted on every decision.

Sole physical and Sole Legal custody DOES NOT MEAN the other parent has no rights or no decision power.  They still may have overnight co-parenting time and decisions on surgeries, doctors and activities.

Confused about Custody
Confused about Custody

Confused.??? Well so are so many others

These two terms and two parts are jammed together to form child custody.

Twenty plus years ago the family courts initiated new terms as something better that makes sense to all involved.

Many times a more factual term some are looking for is “Termination of Parental Rights” and this is extremely difficult without severe situations. Normally handled in a separate case or hearing and 90% involve DHS or other enforcement agencies. This is where a parent gives up or has all rights as a parent removed, may not change child support.

Better terms through Mediation

As 90% of all custody cases handled are joint custody, regardless of the legal term, we focus on better descriptive terms.  These make more sense in mediation and even many attorneys are changing to the terms due to they make for better custody situation.

Custodial Parent

Makes most daily decisions – really

The Custodial Parent will be the parent who registers the child for school, doctors and normally the child returns from school to this residence. This parent may have 30% – 95% of the time, makes most day-to-day decisions and controls where the child goes. This does not affect the co-parenting’s time.

Non-Custodial Parent

Quality time and life changing decisions – really

The non-Custodial Parent will be the parent who has time with the child, assists in life altering decisions and helps support the child. This parent may have as little as 5% or even more than 60% of the time with the child. They can assist with homework, attend events, review grades and receive medical updates.

Co-Parenting vs Visitation

There is really no difference in these just  a more relative term. Your not visiting the child like a distant relative; your helping raise the child sharing your life experiences. Whether you have one day or a full week, you’re helping give the child life experiences and you should not waste it.

Co-Parenting in divorce and paternity cases is a better way of thinking about your relationship and the relationship with the child.  Regardless of Sole or Joint in the legal terms, unless something else has been established, you are to share school schedules, activity dates/times, medical reports, grades, and anything that affects the child.