Questions Most Parents Have About Child Custody

Child custody battles can be grueling for parents, especially if things aren’t cordial between them and the other parent, and they are concerned they won’t get the custody arrangement they are looking for. When getting ready for a child custody dispute, parents tend to have plenty of questions about the process. They may meet with a lawyer for more information, so they can understand their rights and have all of their questions answered.

Is there a difference between legal custody and physical custody?

When a parent gets legal custody, this means they can make choices on behalf of their child. While in comparison, the parent who gets physical custody has the child live with them. It is possible for a parent to get legal and physical custody, the parents to share both, or each parent to get one or the other. Your lawyer can go over the options that are available to you, and how to make negotiations with the other parent go smoother.

What do the courts factor in when deciding child custody?

There are several factors that the court will focus on when deciding who gets custody and what type. The court may look at how much each parent makes, how far away they live from each other, the quality of schools in the area, opportunity for children to have recreational activities and friends, and whether either parent has exhibited abusive or substance abuse problems in the past. Ultimately, the court will decide what is going to be in the best interest of the child. 

What does “best interest” of the child mean exactly?

The court wants their decision and arrangement of child custody to be what is going to benefit the child in the best way possible. Every state has its own guidelines for determining what is considered “best interest”, so your lawyer can go over these laws with you during a consultation. In general, family courts want the circumstances to permit the child to maintain a positive relationship with both parents, especially if the child is close to each of them equally leading up to that point. 

When is it appropriate to file a temporary child custody order?

A temporary child custody order can be helpful in situations where one parent succumbs to an illness, is hospitalized, or leaves for military service. Many states actually require that a temporary child custody order is created for the period of time when the parents separated and divorce finalization. In emergency situations, parents may need to award temporary guardianship for the child’s other parent, relative, grandparents, or trusted family friend. A temporary child custody order may also be needed if one parent is concerned about the safety of themselves and their children. It is recommended that parents who are worried the other parent will become violent or threatening, gets help from law enforcement and then contacts a lawyer in their area. Your child custody lawyer can talk with you about your options and give you the necessary paperwork to fill out if this is the case.