Child Custody

Reaching the best custody arrangement for your children

Nothing is more important to parents than their children.  This priority does not, or should not change if a couple decides to divorce.  In fact, maintaining your children as a priority become even more important to children of divorce.   At White Law Office, LLC we’ve made child custody determinations a stronghold of our practice.  In pursuing the children’s best interest, we’ve met our clients’ goals. Our first efforts for our clients will be to provide the legal backdrop to our clients based on their situation.  We do this by outlining the consequences for different legal strategies by giving best estimates for the time involved for court proceedings, the costs associated with pursuing legal action as well as the likely outcomes in differing jurisdictions.  It is our experience, that once our clients are equipped with practical information, making an informed decision for their children becomes even clearer.

Sole Custody v. Joint Custody

The stress that is often associated with child custody determinations can be eliminated or mitigated if the paramount goal for each parent is to ensure the child’s best interest.  This desire should dominate all factors associated with the divorce, but even moreso with issues related to child custody.   Deciding which custody arrangement to pursue; joint or sole custody is crucial for your child’s best interest.  It’s tempting to permit lingering ill feelings for your ex spouse to determine the custody arrangement you pursue.  But before you engage in a lengthy and costly court battle, you need to understand why such a custody arrangement is reached, the distinction between joint and sole custody and further that there are two different types of sole custody.

Sole Legal Custody:

One parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including matters of education, medical care and emotional, moral and religious development.

Sole Physical Custody:

The child lives with and under the supervision of one parent, subject to reasonable parenting time by the other parent, unless the court determines that such parenting time would not be in the best interest of the child.

Given these two variables, custody can be arranged in a number of ways. One parent may be awarded full legal and physical sole custody rights. One parent may have legal sole custody rights, but share physical custody through a parenting time agreement. One parent may have sole physical custody, but the other parent may share in decisions about the child. It is rare for the courts to award sole physical and legal custody to a parent, unless the court finds that one parent is unfit.  Examples of what might make a parent unfit include a history of violence, mental instability, drug or alcohol abuse, or neglect of the child.  Even then, minimal parenting time might be granted under supervision by a relative or neutral supervisor.

Joint Custody:

Joint custody is essentially the opposite–both parents share equal input and spend essentially equal amount of parenting time with the child.  It is most common to see shared custody in the category of legal custody with one parent granted primary physical custody for the purpose of final decision making if the parties cannot agree.

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