Any time parents separate or divorce, the parents must make some sort of child custody arrangement. There are different types of custody arrangements. Physical custody gives a parent the right to live with the child. If the child spends significant time with both parents, it’s common in many states to award joint physical custody. If the child spends most of her time with one parent, that parent may be awarded primary physical custody and the other parent receives visitation rights.
Legal custody means that a parent has the legal right and obligation to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as medical decisions and schooling. Sole legal custody or sole physical custody may be awarded if one parent is deemed unfit to have physical or legal custody of his or her child.
As stated above, parents can enjoy joint child custody if both parents are deemed fit and spend a significant amount of time with the child such that not having either parent in the child’s life would not be in the child’s best interest. Notwithstanding, some parents are awarded full custody. Full custody means that one parent bears the main responsibility for his or her child’s care and upbringing. This parent lives with the child and is known as the custodial parent. In a full custody arrangement, the parent who does not live with the child (non-custodial parent) may be granted limited visitation rights or limited custody depending on the situation.
Custody papers, also known as custody forms, may be necessary when divorcing or unmarried parents fight for custody of their child. Custody papers refer to a court order that governs the custody arrangement between parents or guardians. It is typically granted by a family law judge during a divorce proceeding or legal separation proceeding, although it can be requested in a separate hearing.
Each state has different standards and procedures. Generally, a parent or guardian must file the appropriate paperwork with the court and pay filing fees, if any. Once your forms are filed, you are given a court date for a custody hearing. A family law judge can grant you full custody if you can demonstrate during your court hearing that granting you full custody is in the best interests of your child.
Yes. There are several reasons why a full custody arrangement may be modified. Generally, the court must determine that altering the custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest. For instance, if the child is in danger or if the custodial parent dies, or if one parent does not cooperate with the visitation schedule, a court may consider changing the child custody arrangement. Similarly, a court can consider modification if one parent is considering relocating to a distant location.
If custody arrangements are violated, the violating parent can be found in contempt, may be fined, and may have his or her custody rights limited as a result. The custody arrangement can also be modified. Further, violating full custody orders (such as trying to flee the state with your child during a scheduled visitation) can result in revocation of any rights to your child.
It isn’t easy gaining full custody of your child. The paperwork is tedious, sometimes difficult to understand and complicated to file. For this reason, it is advantageous to work with a qualified child custody lawyer. An experienced attorney can help provide you with valuable legal advice that will help you attain the result you desire.