When a couple divorces, they must decide upon which living arrangement is in the best interests of the children. The two basic arrangements are sole and joint custody, and whether one or the other is appropriate for a given circumstance depends on certain factors. Bryan family attorneys will work with you to help decide which arrangement is best for your children.
Physical and Legal Custody
It is important from the outset to distinguish between physical and legal custody. Physical custody involves the actual living arrangements of the parents and children, while legal custody grants one or both parents legal responsibility for the children. Parents may share both physical and legal custody, or one may retain physical custody while both possess legal custody. Also, a parent may be granted sole physical and legal custody. This generally occurs when the other parent is deemed to be a danger to the children, such as a parent who has been convicted of domestic violence, or who has been in prison for a violent offense.
Awarding joint custody to the parents does not necessarily mean that the children will spend equal time living with each parent. Indeed, one parent may still be designated as the residential parent. In such a case the other parent would pay child support just as he would if the residential parent had sole custody.
Joint custody means that both parents have maximum involvement with the children. Education, religion, health care, and other issues are mutually decided upon. This can be of great benefit to the children, who often are traumatized by the fact that their parents are no longer together. However, joint custody requires a high degree of cooperation between the parents. If the parents are continually at odds with each other, such an arrangement may not be in the best interests of the children.
Sole custody has advantages. A disadvantage of many joint custody arrangements is that children shuttle back and forth between homes. This can be very disruptive to their lives, especially if both parents do not live in the same town. Sole custody then, allows for the children to remain in one home. However, it is worth noting that family courts are tending toward requiring more involvement by both parents nowadays, when this is practical and in the children’s best interests.
Regardless of which arrangement is decided upon, it is important that both parties keep in mind that as children age their needs change. Visitation, child support and even living arrangements may be altered through court order when necessary.
We Can Help You with Your Custody Concerns
If you are divorcing, it is important that you and the other parent decide upon a custody arrangement; otherwise, the court will do this for you. Call the Bryan family lawyers at Peterson Law Group to arrange a consultation today: 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681.