Reaching Child Custody Agreements
Reaching a child custody agreement is one of the most emotionally charged parts of a divorce. There are various types of child custody available, and it is important to seek help from an experienced lawyer who can help explore your options and determine the best path for moving forward. At The Peterson Firm, we bring more than 35 years of legal experience to issues concerning custody and visitation. We are prepared to put that experience to work for you and your family.
Types Of Child Custody Plans
There are four types of child custody plans:
Sole custody: This type of custody means a person, who does not necessarily have to be a biological parent, is awarded permanent custody by a court order. This person will have the right and responsibility to make all major decisions concerning the child, including those involving education, health care and religious upbringing. A noncustodial parent may still have the right to visitation or parenting time.
Joint custody: A court may award a couple joint legal custody, joint physical custody or both, depending on the situation and what is determined to be in the best interests of the child.
Joint legal custody: Parents who are granted joint legal custody will share equal rights and responsibilities for all major decisions concerning a child’s upbringing. However, the court may designate one parent to have sole power to make certain decisions while both parents have a joint say in other decisions.
Joint physical custody: This type of custody means that a child will effectively receive equal time and contact with both parents.
Factors That Are Considered When Making A Custody Determination
Both parents enter into a child custody case with equal rights. In other words, neither the mother nor the father will have an automatic advantage over each other. If parents are able to agree on all issues surrounding a custody agreement, the court will generally approve of the agreement unless it is not in the child’s best interest. The “child’s best interest” is the legal standard for reaching a custody decision when parents are unable to agree. The court may apply a number of different factors to determine what will be in the child’s best interests, including:
- The current relationship between parent and child
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Which parent has spent the most time with the child
- The child’s opinion, depending on age and maturity
The courts generally operate on the presumption that parents should both be involved in a child’s life whenever possible and will attempt to make a determination that reflects this belief. However, the best interests of the child will always be the court’s first and foremost concern.