Choosing the Custody Agreement That Works Best For Your Family
Divorce or seperation can be stressful and emotional for all. When it comes to your children, make sure they are set up for success with your custody plan.
Divorce and separation often lead to difficult times. When children are involved, things get more complicated. The process of arranging a custody agreement can be confusing, too, as there will be new language and terminology to learn and several different facets to consider. Every family is different, and the appropriate guardianship for one situation won’t necessarily reflect the next one.
There are multiple types of child custody arrangements. Continue reading for an overview of different options. You’ll be better equipped to determine which arrangement is best for your family and discuss Lincoln’s child custody options with your attorney.
What to Consider
Ultimately, the right custody agreement has one priority: the well-being and best interest of the child. There are plenty of big feelings happening during divorce, both from any kids involved and the adults going through the separation. While emotions and stress levels run high, don’t let it muddy the waters. Child custody is about the child.
How are the best interests of the child objectively determined, especially if the parents disagree about them? Below are the basic ideas behind the tactic.
- The child’s wishes – There’s no specific age when a child’s opinion and wishes begin to count. If they’re old enough and mature enough to have an opinion and possess a basic comprehension of the situation, their wishes will factor into the final decision.
- Parental health – If either parent is experiencing mental or physical health issues that make them incapable (or less capable) of caring for the child, those difficulties will likely factor into the final custody arrangement.
- Health and well-being of the child – The child’s health, including mental well-being and social behavior, are also considerations. As an example, if the child has ongoing health needs or some type of care, it could factor into the custody agreement.
- History of abuse – If one (or both) parents have a history of abuse, negligence, substance abuse, or other similar activities, it will likely be included in the custody outcome. Additionally, if the child has a history with any of those categories, the custody agreement still focuses on their well-being.
- Relationship with parent – If a child has a demonstrably different relationship with each parent, it may affect the custody outcome. Having a strong and/or similar relationship with both parents is weighed, too.
Types of Agreements
As you go through the process of determining custody, it’s important to understand the differences between “legal custody” and “physical custody” as these two terms represent different responsibilities.
If a parent is awarded legal custody of a child, they’re responsible for making all the major decisions in that child’s life. It is equally possible to share legal custody, meaning that parents continue to work collaboratively on any major things in the child’s life, such as education, medical care, and so on. Shared legal custody is the ideal arrangement, as it keeps things on equal ground between the parents, but it isn’t always possible. One parent may be awarded and retain sole legal custody of a child.
Physical custody focuses on where a child actually lives. Physical custody can be split in several ways and change over time (if necessary). A child might spend each weekend in the physical custody of one parent while spending the other five days of the week in the physical custody of the other parent. In another arrangement, a child may remain with one parent for six months of the year and the other parent for the other six months of the year.
Visitation, sometimes called “parenting time” is a limited type of physical custody. It typically means that one parent retains actual custody of the child, but the other parent sees and visits with the child. The frequency of visits varies and depends on what agreement the parents reach, as well as (ideally) the wishes of the child.
Can You Change the Agreement?
If a custody arrangement isn’t working for all parties involved, or circumstances change and the agreement needs to be re-evaluated, you may take steps to do so. Only custody modifications officially and legally amend a custody agreement. To obtain a custody modification, you’ll need to return to court.
There are a variety of reasons to seek an Omaha child custody modification or change your Lincoln child custody agreement, including major moves, the new or changed health status of a parent, drug abuse, or anything that drastically alters their ability (or willingness) to maintain the previous agreement.
If you’re going through a divorce and find yourself facing a child custody battle, Nebraska Legal Group can help. Custody agreements are important, life-changing things, and proper legal representation means having someone in your corner to fight for the best arrangement. Nebraska Legal Group handles Lincoln child custody issues and is equipped to represent you in Lincoln and Omaha child custody modification cases as well. Reach out today to discuss your options.