When parents divorce, they must decide what custody arrangement is best for their children. Some couples may choose to work out a parenting agreement outside of court, and many family law professionals encourage this. Creating a custody and visitation schedule can help co-parents establish a positive tone and reduce tensions in the long run. However, it is important to understand the different types of child custody arrangements before deciding on a plan.
There are two general categories of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody focuses on the parents’ rights and responsibilities to make decisions about their children’s upbringing, including issues like medical treatment, religious tutelage and educational choices. Physical custody deals with where the children will live. This can be sole, where one parent has the primary residence with a set schedule of visits for the noncustodial parent, or joint, where the children will spend significant time with both parents.
In some states, judges will award both legal and physical custody to the same parents. In other states, judges will only award one parent legal custody while granting the other parent joint physical custody. The reason for this is that the courts tend to believe that it is in a child’s best interest to have both parents involved in their upbringing as much as possible. This is based on consistent research that indicates that children who spend substantial amounts of time with each parent thrive after divorce or separation.
If a judge awards one parent sole legal custody, that parent has the right and responsibility to make all major decisions for their children without input from the other party. However, if the court awards both legal and physical custody to both parties, the decision-making process will be more collaborative, with both parents sharing in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children. In most cases, a judge will award joint physical custody, meaning that the children will spend approximately the same amount of time with each parent. Typically, the children will stay at their mother’s house during the week and go to their father’s on the weekend and holidays.
Another option is to create a parenting schedule where the children alternate weekends, evenings and extended visits with each parent. This is often more flexible than a weekly, even/odd visitation schedule and can be especially helpful for parents who live far apart or have busy schedules that don’t overlap.
Supervised visitation is usually used for parents who are unable to agree on a visitation schedule or for parents who have concerns that their former partner may pose a danger to their children. During supervised visitation, the child will meet with the other parent in the presence of an adult, such as a relative, a trusted friend or a professional agency.
It is a good idea for parents to consider working out a custody and visitation schedule on their own or with the help of a divorce & family attorney in Miami . This can reduce the stress of a divorce or separation on their children and can be more beneficial in the long run than leaving custody decisions to a judge to determine.