For a couple considering divorce, they will need to work out a fair division of debts, assets, and any real and personal property they have accumulated. While that’s difficult emotionally, it’s easier legally since everything has a dollar value that can reasonably be assigned to it. But when a couple is considering divorce and they have children, often the issues become magnified.

It’s impossible to put a dollar value on spending time with your child during a birthday, holiday, weekend, or even a quiet afternoon. For those who are parents, and most people who aren’t, the idea of dispassionately negotiating over child custody in the same way as negotiating which party gets the family SUV rarely possible, given the emotions in play between the parties.

In child custody, there are four major areas.

  1. Physical custody – Like it sounds, this refers to where the child lives for the majority of the time. During a separation or divorce, the traditional child custody arrangement is for the child to live with one parent and visit the other. Sometimes parents can share physical custody if they live close enough and have enough schedule flexibility to care for the child daily.
  2. Legal custody – This is all about the power to legally make decisions on your child’s behalf about issues like healthcare, schooling, religious upbringing, and related topics. It’s common for both parents to have joint legal child custody unless the parents cannot get along or communicate effectively.
  3. Visitation rights – When one child has primary physical custody, the other parent will nearly always be granted visitation rights. These are determined as either a fixed or a flexible schedule, depending on the needs of all parties. Visitation can be denied in cases of abuse, parental substance abuse, or other serious issues.
  4. Modifications – Most of the time, after a custody arrangement and support arrangement has been set up, it will need to be modified before the child reaches 18 years of age. Once that change becomes necessary, a parent can file a motion with the court seeking to alter the agreement. A judge will make changes if they find it to be in the best interests of the child.

Fredericks and Stephens P.C. are the clear choice for any and all of your family law needs. Our family law attorneys understand how difficult child custody litigation can be, and we have the compassion and skill to help you navigate the legal system.