Parents beginning the divorce process have many factors to consider when it comes to the future well-being of their child. Typically, both parents want to have as much time as possible with their child. It can be possible for divorcing spouses to work out arrangements for the child outside of court. However, if you and your spouse disagree about any aspect of child custody or child support, you will need to move forward with dispute resolution in court.
Whenever children are involved in a divorce, custody must be determined. Custody is defined as the responsibility for the care and control of your child.
There are two parts to custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions about your child, such as where your child goes to school. Physical (or residential) custody is the day-to-day care and supervision of your child.
There are two types of legal custody: sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody means that one parent can make major decisions for the child without consulting the other parent. Joint custody means that each parent must consult with the other before making major decisions for the child and both parents must agree before major decisions for the child can be made.
One parent may have physical custody of the child or the parents can have shared physical custody of the child if the parents live in the same school district.
When one parent has sole custody of the child, the other parent may be granted visitation. This is time that the non-custodial parent is entitled to spend with the child on a set schedule. Visitation is also known as “parenting time.” However, visitation may also be approved for other people involved in a child’s life, including grandparents and siblings.
Determining Custody And Visitation
Ideally, child custody and visitation terms will be settled outside of court, with the help of an experienced attorney. However, should that not be possible, a child custody hearing will be scheduled and an Attorney for the Children will be assigned by the court.
The goal of the court is always to satisfy the best interests of the child. In a hearing to determine custody and visitation, the judge will gather as much information as possible about both parents, their relationship with the child, and both home environments before deciding on terms for child custody and visitation. The court will also consider the wishes of the children by receiving reports from the Attorney for the Children. How much weight the children’s wishes will be given depends on a variety of circumstances such as the children’s ages and maturity.
Following a custody determination, a parent seeking visitation with a child may file a petition in Family Court against the parent or other party who has custody. The court will determine whether the visitation time is in the best interests of the child.
Occasionally, visitation will only be granted if it is supervised. This means that another adult is present with the parent and the child during visitation time. A judge will order supervised visitation if the health and safety of the child is in question when in the company of the non-custodial parent. The supervisor may be the custodial parent or a family member if all parties agree. The supervisor would be named in the court order. There are a number of reasons that supervised visitation would be granted, including substance abuse or a history of violence by the non-custodial parent.
Get Personalized Legal Advice
We understand that going from being with your child full-time to part-time is a complicated and often emotional transition. You will need the help of an experienced family law attorney to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child once your divorce is finalized. Call Bates Family Law today at (585) 433-4661 to schedule your free consultation.