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What Is Child Custody?
Child custody refers to how much time a minor will spend with their separated or divorced parents. There are several types of child custody arrangements, including:
- Joint legal custody
- Joint physical custody
- Sole custody
With joint legal custody, both parents share in important decision-making, including the child’s healthcare and education.
What Is Visitation?
Shared physical custody can be difficult for some parents, especially when they live in different states. The parent who is awarded more time with the child is said to be the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent shares time with the child through a visitation schedule. Visitation schedules can take into account the child’s schedule, distance between parents, and the parents’ work schedules.
When parents have a custody dispute, the courts may first send the parents through custody mediation. A child custody mediator can help the parents establish a fair visitation schedule that gives both parents time with their child and is in the child’s best interests.
Can I Change My Child Custody Order?
Child custody plans are generally put into a court order that is approved by a family court judge. If you want to change your visitation schedule or custody arrangement, you may need approval from the family law judge. You may be able to have your custody plan modified or even get sole custody.
In many cases, the court will require you to show a change in circumstances to justify a change in the court order. Any change will also have to be in the best interests of the child. If you want to change your child custody orders or have other custody issues, talk to your lawyer for legal advice.
What Happens If You Don’t Follow Child Visitation Plans?
A parent may not want to let their ex see their child. The parent may think the other parent is a bad influence, hangs out around dangerous people, or there is a risk of domestic violence. However, if you decide not to follow the custody and visitation plan, you may be found in contempt of the court orders. If you try and take your child away, you could even face child kidnapping charges.
Even if the other parent isn’t paying child support or spousal support, that may not be a basis to deny visitation rights. Before you decide to not follow the child custody orders, talk to a family law firm about any custody disputes.
How Can a Child Custody Lawyer Help?
If you are a parent who is interested in spending as much time as possible with your child, you will want to make sure you put your best foot forward at any hearing where child custody is being decided. A child custody attorney has the experience needed to make sure the court knows that you are the parent who is most fit for primary custody of your child.
Your family law attorney will:
- Explain your local child custody laws
- Review your child custody case
- Collect and present facts in your favor
- Help you deal with any legal issues
The goal is to try to show the court that granting your custody wishes is in the best interests of the child. A child custody lawyer can help you through a child custody case to receive the best possible outcome.