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Child Custody

Working out a parenting agreement that covers child custody and visitation can be difficult, especially when there’s animosity between you and the other parent. Whether you’re recently separated and looking to learn the basics of types of custody or you’ve had an open case for years that needs modifications due to life changes, you can find resources here. FindLaw’s Child Custody and Visitation section has information and resources on a wide variety of topics to help you through your child custody case.

This section contains answers to common child custody questions, describes different types of custody, explains what to do if problems arise, and details grandparent visitation rights. Additionally, state-specific child custody laws and forms are provided.

Types of Child Custody

There are several types of child custody. First, joint custody is where both parents share parental rights and the living arrangements of their child. Courts generally prefer joint custody, but sole custody, where only one parent or guardian has the physical and legal custody over a child, is a possible arrangement as well. Physical custody refers to sharing a home with a child and handling his or her day-to-day care. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions on your child’s behalf, including those related to health care, religion, and education.

How to Obtain Custody of Your Child

In most states, family courts determine child custody arrangements based on what is in the best interests of the child. So how is that decided? The courts look at a number of factors in making this determination, such as the parents’ desire and ability to care for the child, the emotional bond between the child and both parents, the adjustment needed if the child has to move to a new area, and, if old enough, the child’s wishes.

Frequently, parents or other adults who have raised a child will be required by the court to take part in mediation. In mediation, you can discuss what you want, any problems you’ve had exchanging the child from one home to the next, and anything else that’s relevant to the situation. Hopefully, you can come to a resolution everyone can live with. Otherwise, the judge may make a parenting plan that neither parent is happy with. However, it’s important to note that if there was domestic violence in your relationship with the other parent, you may be able to skip mediation.

Child Custody Problems

Sometimes issues arise where a parent keeps a child when it’s not his or her turn to care for the child. Occasionally, a parent claims a child on their taxes after it had already been established that the other parent would claim the child. When these problems arise, it’s never the solution to stop paying child support; that will only hurt you in the end. Instead, a child custody modification may be needed.

Hiring a Child Custody and Visitation Lawyer

Going to court for anything can be emotionally draining, but for cases involving your child, it can be extremely difficult to keep calm and ensure everything you need to tell the judge is covered. With an experienced attorney advocating for your rights as a parent, you’re more likely to get the custody and visitation agreement you and your child want.