Understanding Child Custody
The Complexities of Child Custody
When navigating the world of child custody, there’s no issue more critical—or contentious—than the best interests of the children involved. In an effort to protect those interests, parents who fail to assert their parenting time along the way may lose the ability to spend the desired amount of time with their children, or even jeopardize their parent-child relationship entirely due to the termination of parental rights.
Because of the high stakes that inevitably surround any child custody case, it’s imperative that both parents employ qualified legal counsel focused on advocating for their parental rights and safeguarding their sacred parent-child relationship. Whether you’re planning to relocate for the child’s benefit or looking to secure the appropriate amount of child support, child custody is a complex, multifaceted issue. But you don’t have to navigate your child custody case alone. At Z Family Law, our experienced team of family law attorneys is here for you at every step of the way, arming you with the first-hand knowledge and empathy it takes to determine the best custody arrangement for both you and your kids, so be sure to book your initial case assessment today to learn more about the laws and considerations that may apply in your specific circumstances.
Understanding Joint Custody
Joint legal custody is a parenting arrangement in which both parents share responsibilities and decision making for their children, though not necessarily physical custody. Joint custody can be determined during divorce proceedings, in a separation agreement, or via another parenting plan or court order. In most cases, joint custody is awarded when both parents are generally able to cooperate and agree on important decisions regarding the best interest of their children. In some cases, one parent may hold “tie breaking” authority in cases of disagreement.
In terms of physical custody, shared physical custody is defined as a situation in which each parent spends at least 35% of their time with the child(ren). Shared physical custody is often considered to be the best custody agreement for children, as it allows them to maintain strong relationships with both parents. It can also help children feel more secure and stable, as they know that they'll have a home with each parent. Joint custody can also provide children with a sense of continuity and stability, especially when their parents are no longer together.
There are numerous benefits to joint custody, but there are also a few potential drawbacks. One potential drawback of shared physical custody is that it can be more difficult for children to transition between homes. Meanwhile, joint legal custody can be more challenging for custodial parents who do not get along. If parents are unable to cooperate or communicate effectively, joint legal custody may not be the best option.
Consequences for Violating Child Custody Agreements
Parents who violate a child custody agreement can face serious consequences. If a parent takes the children without the other parent's permission, that parent could be charged with kidnapping. If a parent fails to return the children on time, that parent may be found in contempt of court. If you're a parent who has violated a child custody agreement, it's vital to take action to remedy the situation as soon as possible. You may need to speak to a child custody attorney to help you negotiate a new agreement with your ex-spouse or to modify the existing agreement. If you're unable to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse, you may need to go to court to ask a judge to rule on the custody arrangement. The judge will consider various factors that affect the best interests of the child(ren) when making a final decision.
Protecting Parental Rights
Child custody cases are as serious as they are personal, which is why our experienced legal professionals are committed to handling your child custody case with compassion and sensitivity. When determining who will be awarded custody of a child (or children), the court considers many factors. Some of these include the following:
- The parent-child relationship
- The financial status of each parent
- The ability of each parent to care for the emotional needs of the children involved
- The children’s preference
- Each child’s current routine and the solution that offers the least amount of disruption
- The lifestyle of each parent
- The physical and mental condition of each parent
When ruling on child custody, a judge will prioritize the children’s best interests above all—both emotionally and financially.
Grandparent custody and visitation is a complex issue that can be incredibly difficult for all parties. The question of who should be granted custody of a child, especially when the parents of that child are not involved or not fit to parent, is a difficult one to answer. In the United States, the answer to this question has changed over time and is still evolving. In the past, it was rare for a grandparent to be granted custody of a child over the parents. However, in recent years, courts have become more open to granting them custody when the parents are deemed unfit and the grandparent has a previously established, significant relationship with the children.
There are a few different ways a grandparent can be granted custody over a parent. The most common is for the court to grant grandparents temporary custody while the parent is dealing with a legal issue or another issue that prevents them from being able to care for the child. Another way is for grandparents to petition for guardianship of the child, which is a more permanent arrangement. If you're a grandparent seeking child custody of your grandchild, set up an initial case assessment with one of our child custody attorneys today.
Looking to learn more about grandparents’ rights? We can help with that too.
What's a Child Support Order?
A child support order is a court order that requires one parent to make payments to support their child or children. This order is usually issued when a couple separates or divorces and one parent is not able to provide the same level of financial support as the other, or in cases where one parent has physical custody and the other does not. The court order will outline how much money the parent must pay and how often they must make the payments.
The funds are used to cover the child’s basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. In the United States, each state has its own laws regarding child support orders. Generally, the parent who is the primary custodian of the child (the custodial parent) is the one who will receive the payments from the other parent (the noncustodial parent). The court will consider several factors when determining the amount of child support one parent must pay, including the income of each parent, the number of children, the ages of the children, and the cost of living in the area.
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Finding the Right Child Custody Attorney for You
As you navigate this challenging time, a trusted legal team of family law attorneys and support professionals can help you make rational, well-guided decisions. After all, when it comes to writing your new happily ever after, the importance of finding strategic and compassionate legal counsel focused solely on family law cannot be understated. By combining our vast legal experience, our tenured team can design a tailored strategy to help you take back your power and build the new beginning you deserve. It all starts with an initial case assessment.