Parents must come up with a strategy for the children’s living arrangements, whether they split or never wed. This is resolved in accordance with state child custody regulations, with special consideration given to the kid’s best interests.
The terms “physical custody” and “legal custody” refer to the child’s residence (which may be shared by both parents) and the parent’s capacity to make significant life decisions on the child’s behalf, respectively.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which aims to deter parental kidnapping and other custody issues, is followed by all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.
According to Rhode Island law, parents are encouraged to resolve custody disputes out of court. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the courts decide who gets custody based on what is best for the child.
A Parenting Plan: What Is It?
A parenting plan is a thorough, written agreement that specifies how divorcing parents will divide custody of their children, both legally and physically. Parenting plans in Rhode Island are optional (but strongly encouraged).
Parents can negotiate with the assistance of skilled mediators provided by the courts. The court will decide who gets custody if the parents cannot reach a parenting plan.
What Factors Does the Court Consider When Deciding on Custody?
When assessing what is in a child’s best interest, Rhode Island courts weigh a number of considerations. Some of these variables are the quality of the parent-child bond, the significance of sibling bonds, and the child’s ties to their home, school, and community.
The gender of a parent is not taken into account. A guardian ad litem may be appointed in a custody battle to speak up for the child and determine what is in their best interests.
The parent who has primary physical custody is in charge of providing the child with food, shelter, clothes, and care while they are both living in the same home. One parent may be granted sole physical custody of a child, with the other parent receiving regular visitation or parenting time.
Parents may also share physical custody, sometimes known as “joint custody.”
The term “custodial parent” refers to the parent who spends the most time with the child, while the term “noncustodial parent” refers to the other parent.
Legal custody is the authority granted to a parent to make significant choices on a child’s health, education, and religion. Parents may frequently divide legal custody of their children.
Even a parent who does not have legal custody of their child can make emergency medical decisions for them. When the parents cannot come to an agreement, the custodial parent has the final say. Similar to physical custody, legal custody can be shared by the parents or solely granted to one of them.
RI Children’s Visitation Rules
The state of Rhode Island has adopted visiting regulations that include a required minimum of parenting time. The time each parent spends with the child is referred to as “parenting time” in general.
Each parent has a legal right to parenting time with their kid in practically all circumstances, except for one parent’s parental rights have been terminated. Minimum parenting time often consists of visits every other weekend and one weeknight per week. A judge may grant a noncustodial parent more parenting time than the required amount, but not less.
Who in Rhode Island Decides Who Has Custody?
A court must provide approval before a parent’s custody arrangement becomes a legally binding custody order. While some parents use a mediator, some are able to agree on their own.
When parents cannot agree, the judge may instruct the couple to attend mediation before scheduling a trial. Mediation is always a voluntarily initiated procedure, even when a judge demands it. Therefore, nobody can compel you or your spouse to settle during mediation. A mediator serves as an impartial third party to assist couples in resolving their conflicts.
A mediator will draft an agreement for you and your ex to sign and present to the judge for approval if you are able to settle custody disputes there. If a couple cannot settle their custody dispute through mediation, a court will determine custody at trial in accordance with the child’s best interests.
What Elements Affect a Judge’s Decision Regarding Custody?
Remember that no one aspect will affect your custody case outcome if you request sole custody in Rhode Island. Instead, the judge will consider your family’s overall situation to determine what is best for your child.
A judge will specifically take into account the following factors:
- Relationships between each parent and their child
- The preference of the child (if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity level)
- Relationships between the child and their siblings and other family members
- The child’s integration into the community, at school, and at home
- The physical and mental wellbeing of each parent
- The moral fitness of each parent
- The abuse or domestic violence history of either parent
- The capacity of each parent to give the child a secure environment and the willingness of each parent to promote a relationship between the child and the other parent.
A court may also take into account any aspect of the child’s wellbeing, but there are several aspects that they are expressly prohibited from doing so.
For instance, the gender of a parent cannot be taken into account in a custody lawsuit, and mothers are not always given the edge. But Rhode Island’s child custody statutes permit a judge to consider a parent’s moral fitness.
A parent’s prospects of obtaining custody would undoubtedly be harmed by some behaviors, such as one parent’s history of domestic violence or abuse, even though the definition of “moral fitness” can be ambiguous.
In Rhode Island, Can a Child Express a Preference for Custody?
In Rhode Island, there is no set age at which a judge must automatically take into account a child’s wishes regarding custody. A youngster who is old enough to declare a well-thought-out desire for custody can typically voice their opinion in a custody dispute. The wishes of a toddler are less likely to be taken into consideration by a judge than those of a teenager.
Neither parent can stop the child from seeing the other parent. Anyone who obstructs a child’s visitation may be found in contempt of court. Children occasionally object to going to visits. There is no definitive answer to the question “what age can a child decline visitation?” posed by some parents.
Parents have a duty to promote the child’s contact with the other parent. For instance, unless the child’s safety is in jeopardy, a judge will expect a parent to take a preschooler to visit against the child’s wishes.
Older teens are less under parental supervision, and if a teen refuses to visit, a judge won’t punish either the teen or the parent. A judge can, at best, advise the youngster to develop a bond with that parent.
What Takes Place After a Court Decision?
The custody and divorce orders are submitted to the court clerk after approval. The court must accept any changes to the plan before it may be modified, and the authorized custody order then binds both parents.
Should I Speak with a Rhode Island Attorney About My Child Custody Issues?
Child custody fights can be very emotive and call for a thorough knowledge of the law. Talking with an experienced lawyer if you have questions about child custody and visitation is crucial.
A Rhode Island child custody attorney will fight for you and your child’s rights and work to get your family the finest parenting plan possible.