Separating from someone with whom you share children can be one of the most difficult experiences of your life. Even if you wanted the divorce or separation, the process can prove to be an unpleasant experience.
When you and your significant other separate, your major differences tend to come out in full force. If you have children, this can complicate the process of determining physical and legal child custody.
Even when breakups are completely amicable, you are likely to have disagreements, particularly over child custody arrangements. When dealing with child custody cases, there are a few things you need to know to make sure your parental rights are protected.
We can help. Keep reading for five things you need to know regarding child custody.
1. There’s a Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody
First, understand that physical custody and legal custody are two different things. For example, one parent might be granted full physical custody of a child. This means the child will live with them full-time and the other parent will have visiting rights.
However, if both parents maintain legal custody, it means they have equal say in the child’s life. For example, both parents must agree on any major decisions regarding the future or welfare of the child.
2. Physical Custody Cases Favor the Parent Who Can Provide Safety, Security, and Stability
Next, remember that the purpose of child custody cases is to ensure the well-being of the child/children. Therefore, if the physical custody of the child is contested, the court will typically rule in favor of the parent who can provide the most secure, stable, and safe environment.
For example, if one of the parents has a history of bouncing around from job to job, it might result in them losing the custody case. Your custody might also be in jeopardy if you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
3. Married and Unmarried Parents
If you and your significant other are unmarried, you will still have equal parenting rights. However, in this case, the father must prove paternity with a DNA test. Once this is done, both parents are accountable to the same child custody laws as married couples.
If the father cannot prove paternity, sole custody is awarded to the mother. We recommend consulting with an attorney to make sure you understand the law surrounding child custody cases if you are married or unmarried.
4. Parenting Plans Can Be Created Outside of the Legal System
Finally, while family court is necessary to officially decree physical and legal custody rights, parenting plans can be created outside the legal system by separating couples. Assuming the couple can get along and settle any disputes on their own, they can establish a complete parenting plan without the help of an attorney.
Once they come to an agreement, they will need to take the agreement to court to have it looked over and approved by a judge.
Do You Need a Professional Who Specializes in Child Custody Cases?
If you and your partner are separating, we strongly urge you to seek legal guidance. Child custody cases can escalate quickly and you need to make sure your parental rights are protected. Having a legal expert on your side (even if you never use them), is never a bad idea.
And if you’re looking for more lifestyle and legal tips, read through some of our other articles while you’re here. Our blog was created with people like you in mind. Our goal is to provide as much valuable information as possible to help people live longer, happier, healthier lives.