Parents who get divorced have something more important to decide than who keeps the family home or car. They must determine who will keep their children and this may not be easy. Ultimately, parents have the most say regarding who receives child custody. However, they often seek input from family counselors and attorneys. Parents who cannot reach custody agreements must turn their cases over to family courts.
If parents can negotiate child custody during divorce, they will save themselves time, money, and frustration. Options include sharing custody so children can reside with each parent a portion of the time or having one parent serve as the primary caregiver while the other has regular visitation time. With help from family law attorneys, many parents are able to come to agreement, avoiding a custody battle in divorce.
However, there are also parents who cannot seem to agree on anything. Divorce may pit them against each other in a battle over everything imaginable including their children. These adults have no hope of agreeing on custody so they let the courts decide. Family court judges consider multiple factors, the most important being what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the children. Children considered old enough to make rational decisions may be asked for their preferences.
Parents seeking sole custody in divorce must prove to the courts that they are the best caregivers. This entails showing that they have the finances, lifestyle, and emotional maturity to care for their children. When petitioning for sole custody, the petitioner must also prove that the other parent is unfit. This can be an emotional and stressful process for all involved so it is helpful to have a family lawyer do the legwork.
If both parents are suitable caregivers, family courts usually let them share physical and legal custody. Since busy schedules of parents and their children make it difficult to split time evenly, one parent may be designated as the primary physical custodian and the other may be granted a reduced amount of custody. At the same time, the parents may be awarded shared legal custody, allowing them to make important childrearing decisions.
When parents are struggling to determine who will keep the children, each one should consult a family law attorney for child custody help. Attorneys for both parties will help work through the issues to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement. This helps both parents remain in their children’s lives and avoids time in court before a judge.