Every year, more than 740,000 marriages in America end in divorce. So if your marriage is coming to an end you’re in good company.
This can be a very difficult time emotionally but getting divorced also involves a lot of practical organization. This is especially true if you have kids.
Knowing and organizing your custody rights is crucial if you are going to maintain contact with your kids. This also ensures that they feel as secure and stable as possible during the divorce process.
Need to know more about custody rights in America? Then you’re in the right place. Read on to find out more.
What Is Child Custody?
Child custody is a type of agreement you make during and after a divorce. It determines how much time you are allowed to spend with your children and may outline where you can do this.
At least one parent will be awarded custody of their children. A parent with custody looks after the children and often continues living with them. Parents who do not have custody of their children may be awarded visitation time.
This can often result in custody battles for kids. To understand this better, let’s take a closer look at the different types of custody arrangements.
1. Physical Custody
Physical custody relates to your right to have your children live with you after a divorce. You might share this right with your ex or you may have sole physical custody of your children.
In extreme circumstances of neglect or abuse, physical custody may be awarded to a responsible guardian. This means that your children won’t live with their parents.
2. Joint Physical Custody
Joint custody is the most common arrangement in America at the moment. This ensures that children get to spend time with both of their parents.
This does not, however, mean that you have a 50/50 split of time with your kids. Children living in joint custody households may live with one parent and visit the other at the weekends.
In a joint custody arrangement, you have to agree to a schedule with your ex that is fair for everyone, especially your children.
3. Sole Physical Custody
Sole physical custody arrangements mean that the child or children live with only one of their parents all the time. This means that they are not allowed to live with their other parent.
Often sole physical custody will be awarded when it is in the best interests of the child. This may be to create stability in a child’s life or it might be because of abuse or neglect at one parent’s home.
4. Legal Custody
Legal custody can be awarded to one or both parents. This affects the power you have over child-rearing decisions, such as:
- Religious instruction
- Medical care
In most cases, legal custody will be awarded to both parents unless there is a serious reason why it shouldn’t be. You can maintain legal custody of your children even if you do not have physical custody.
Visitation Rights of Non-Custodial Parents and Family Members
Parents who do not have custody of their children still have visitation rights. These allow them to spend time with their children.
Non-custodial parents must stick to childcare arrangements. They must not take their child away without permission from the custodial parent.
Custodial parents also have to stick to these arrangements. They are not allowed to refuse visitation to non-custodial parents. Visitation may be denied in extreme circumstances (such as abuse or neglect) or if the child does not want to visit their non-custodial parent.
Family members of non-custodial parents may also want to seek visitation rights. For example, grandparents may want to arrange a time to see their grandkids. It is best to do this through the court.
More often than not, a court will decide on visitation rights. Violating these rights can have serious consequences for either parent.
How to Get Custody
There are several ways that you can organize custody arrangements.
If you and your ex are on good terms, you may be able to make an informal childcare arrangement. You can hire an attorney or mediator to help you communicate during this process. Even if you do get on, this can make the whole process easier on everyone and is one of our top divorce tips.
If you cannot come to an arrangement, you will need to take your custody arrangement to family court. The court will take several things into consideration when deciding on a custody arrangement. This includes:
- Each parents’ living situation
- Each parent’s relationship with their children
- How willing each parent is to support the other’s relationship with their child
- The age of the child or children
- The children’s preferences
- Evidence or accusations of abuse or neglect
- The amount of stability that each parent offers
Every state uses this information to make a custody decision based on what is in the best interest of the child. A decision in family court is non-negotiable.
Calculating Child Support
Once the custody and divorce arrangements are in place, you will also have to organize child support. This is a financial arrangement that supports the parent or parents caring for a child.
Some factors that affect this include:
- The cost of childcare (including school or daycare fees, health insurance costs, and special needs)
- The income of the custodial parent
- The income of the non-custodial parent and their ability to pay child support
- The child’s standard of living prior to the divorce
In sole custody arrangements, the non-custodial parent has to make regular support payments. If you reach a joint custody arrangement, calculating child support is a little more complicated. This will depend on the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
Some states have a minimum child support requirement. Others calculate this depending on your individual situation.
Get Support With Your Custody Rights Today
During and after a divorce, your custody rights can vary depending on the arrangement you come to with your ex. Ideally, you will be awarded joint custody of your child although your children may still spend most of their time at one parent’s home.
Hiring a lawyer is key if you want to know how to win a custody battle. For more support, visit https://www.hartley-lawoffice.com today.