Child custody is one of the most sensitive legal matters one can face. Every parent loves their children and the idea of not being able to see them often can be terrifying. If you are in the middle of a child custody case, you probably have a lot of concerns and questions. To help shed some light, we compiled a list of some of the most common questions, so you can get a better idea of the situation you are facing.
Here is a list of the top 10 questions people ask regarding child custody matters:
- What is the difference between shared and sole custody? Shared or joint custody is a situation in which both parents are awarded child custody, making both of them custodial parents. In some cases, physical custody might not be evenly split and it is possible one would be the custodial parent. Sole custody, on the other hand, may refer to both legal and physical custody. If a parent has sole legal and sole physical custody, the child would not only live with one parent, but that parent would also make all of the major decisions in the life of that child, regardless of the other parent’s wishes. The other parent would likely still have visitation rights, depending on the situation. There can be different combinations of custody, i.e. joint legal with sole physical or joint legal with joint physical or sole legal and sole physical….
- What sort of factors does the court examine in a child custody case? Ultimately, the court’s decision revolves around these words – “the best interests of the child.” To determine what serves the best interests of the child, however, a judge will look at a variety of factors, including the overall health of each parent, if there is a history of domestic violence or substance abuse, whether the child has any special needs, and the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving home environment.
- How is the visitation schedule made? The court would prefer both parents to hash out an agreement on a visitation schedule. That said, the decision would ultimately be left up to the court if you are going through litigation and can’t decide for yourself. I’m really great at helping parties come up with arrangements that are best for their kids.
- Is one parent more likely than the other to receive custody? In the past, courts showed a preference for mothers when it came to child custody. Today, either parent is just as likely as long as the arrangement serves the best interests of the child. Men have gotten a bad wrap for being dead beat dads. All of the dads I have represented have been very dedicated fathers.
- If parents are unmarried, who receives custody of the children? When parents are unmarried and feuding over child custody, the court would favor the mother in cases where paternity is not established, unless a father submits a DNA test to court to assert paternity. In cases where paternity is established, custody would be awarded based on the best interests of the child.
- If I am moving out of state, can I bring my kids with me? Before moving with your children, you would need to request the court’s permission first or have a written agreement with the other party that you get turned into an order of the court. Failure to do so can result in the loss of custody, steep fines, or even jail time. The court generally has the view that you are free to move states but that doesn’t mean your child is going with you. I have had great results in negotiating these types of cases on behalf of my clients.
- Can I modify a child custody order? You can, but you will need to file a formal request and prove to the court that it is in the best interest of your children. If your co-parent agrees with the modification I can help you draft up an agreement/stipulation that we can then have turned into an order of the court. It is always best when parents can work out what is best for their children instead of having the Judge do it for them. I have had great success helping parents negotiate and create a plan that is best for their kids.
- What does child support cover? Child support is designed to cover everything from food and clothing to education-related expenses and medical treatment for the child.
- Can I change the last name of my child to match mine rather than his or her father’s? You would need a court order to accomplish this, regardless of the custody arrangement. If both parents are in agreement, the court will likely grant the request.
- Do I need a lawyer? Child custody cases are incredibly complex, so you should absolutely hire an attorney to represent you! I like to get involved in the process as soon as possible. It is more time consuming for me to step in if the client has messed something up previously.
Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer Today!
At The Law Offices of Andrea Schneider, we are committed to providing exceptional legal representation and advice.
Call our law office today at (619) 304-8499 to schedule a case review with a member of our team!