The process of divorce is one that is emotionally straining, financially draining, and physically exhausting. Even more so, if there are children involved. As parents, you don’t want your kids to experience this kind of situation, but sometimes, it’s the best for everyone.
If a divorce is what can help you live an emotionally healthier life and save your kids from the unhealthy relationship of their parents, it will do you good to study the case and the fundamentals of family law as well. Specifically, you should know about your rights as a parent, including child custody.
The Kinds of Child Custody
According to a Santa Fe-based child custody lawyer, “Family situations vary, and so do the aspects of child custody cases. Every family is different, and what works for one family may not work for yours.” The court determines what kind of custodial rights to grant a parent, based on many factors, including the child’s preference, mental and physical health of parents, and child-parent relationship, among others. There are two kinds of custody: legal and physical. And there are different types for each.
A parent with legal custody has the rights to make major decisions for their minor children, such as schooling, religion, and medical care. The court’s decision to award legal custody influenced by the parent’s mental capability, history of substance abuse and violence, and records of child abandonment. Under legal custody are:
- Joint Legal Custody: In this arrangement, both parents have the rights to decide for their child’s upbringing and welfare. Parents should respect each other’s rights and communicate effectively to prevent conflict.
- Sole Legal Custody: As the name suggests, only one parent has the decision-making right and responsibility. Depending on the court’s decision, the other parent can still have visitation rights and pay child support but has no decision-making authority.
If granted physical custody, a parent has the right to have their child live with them. Parents with joint legal custody may not have joint physical custody – it all depends upon the court’s verdict. Here are the arrangements for physical custody:
- Sole Physical Custody: The child lives only with one parent but may still be in contact with the other parent through scheduled visitation. A judge grants this right in cases where the non-custodial parent has a history of child abuse and drug addiction, or the parents live too far away from each other. However, if both live near each other, the custodial parent cannot relocate without the court’s permission.
- Joint Physical Custody: This means that the child spends a certain amount of time living with both parents, who are equally responsible for the physical care of the kid. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the child spends an equal amount of time with both parents. Instead, they can come up with a schedule, which the court should approve.
- Bird’s Nest Custody: Both parents live in the same house as the child, but they alternatively move in and out. The arrangement is child-centered because it doesn’t require the kid to adjust now and then to a new living environment. Bird’s nest custody is ideal for those who are co-parenting, according to Psychology Today.
Working to Have Child Custody
Being a responsible parent, you want to be there for all your child’s milestones and everyday achievements. If you’re more than willing to be the primary custodial parent or to work with your ex-spouse in raising your kid, you also have to be more than willing to do the following:
- Work with your ex in coming up with a custodial arrangement that is best for your kid.
- Be respectful of your ex’s requests and decisions.
- Ensure the court you can provide a good home for your kid.
- Call for witnesses who can vouch that you are a responsible parent.
- Appear in all court hearings and have proper court etiquette.
Custody battles don’t determine which parent gets the child. Instead, it determines which living arrangement is best for a child. As a parent, that should also be your mindset. When you dial down the drama, control your emotions, and show the willingness to cooperate with your ex, you give the court the impression that you’re putting the interests of your kid before yours.