Custody and visitation issues are often complex and require the advice of a skilled family law attorney who will help you weigh the potential outcomes and balance emotions. Regardless of your legal status with your child’s other parent, you each will continue to be parents moving forward. An experienced family lawyer can help you protect your parental rights and your children’s future.
There are many different options for child custody/access plans. We will work with you to make sure you understand your options, so you can figure out the plan that works best for your family. We can also make sure you develop a comprehensive and fair plan regarding visitation, parenting time, and time-sharing.
The basic structure of any custody and access arrangement will address decision-making regarding the child and when each parent will have access to the child. The phrase “custody” typically refers to the decision-making process relative to significant issues for the child. Most parents entering into a joint custody arrangement have agreed to communicate and work together to agree on major decisions. To the extent that a party has “sole custody,” that individual is the only decision-maker. They could seek the other parent’s input but are under no legal obligation to do so. The access component of the agreement or court order deals with when each parent sees and spends time with a child and can range from very detailed and specific to more broad and general.
Ultimately, the court is tasked with determining what is in the child’s best interest and may look to the past practices of the parties, their overall stability, and backgrounds and may also hear from other witnesses such as school personnel or other family members. The courts also may obtain assistance, including evaluations relative to either parent’s mental health or potential substance abuse. They may also order a custodial assessment typically conducted by an individual possessing a Ph.D. or MSW in some form of family counseling or psychology.