Practice Center - Family Law
Custody & Visitation
When parents divorce, they need to learn the child custody and visitation options that are available to them and the legal standards applied to the different options. In most cases, divorcing couples are ultimately able to agree on custody and visitation issues without the need for a court order. When an agreement cannot be reached, knowledgeable advice and representation from an experienced family law attorney often makes all the difference.
The set of parental responsibilities regarding day-to-day care of the child as well as the rights to direct the child's daily activities is known legally as physical custody. Legal custody means the rights and responsibilities associated with decisions regarding the child's upbringing.
There are many options regarding the division of these rights and responsibilities between divorcing parents. More and more, courts are encouraging parents to continue working together to raise their children even after their marriage has ended. Common custody solutions include:
Determining Custody and Visitation
Divorcing couples often tackle custody and visitation issues as soon as they separate. Courts generally honor both the long and short-term custody arrangements of parents when they reach agreements about their children. When couples can't agree, procedures exist throughout the divorce process to resolve custody conflicts.
Changing Custody and Visitation
Once custody and schedule of visitation has been reached, either by the court or the couple, usually specific procedures must be followed in order to change the arrangement. If couples have reached an agreement through mediation, they may have to go back to mediation in order to make any modifications. Custody established through court order requires additional court involvement. In order to support a request for a change the parent seeking the modification must show a substantial change in circumstances. Some states will only consider a request for modification within two years of an original custody determination if there is a showing that the child is endangered by the ordered custody arrangement and some states place residency limitations on requests to prevent parents from shopping for friendly rulings in different states.
The resolution of child custody and visitation disputes requires separating parents to act rationally in their child's best interests at a time when they are facing the overwhelming stress of divorce. Advice from an experienced family law attorney will help you understand the options available to you in your particular situation and make a plan that will serve the best interests of you and your children.
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