We know: All About Child Custody Law

What is child custody law?

Child custody law determines which parent or relative should have physical and/or legal control and responsibility for a minor (child) younger than 18 in the case of divorce or death. It also determines visitation.

What are the different types of Child custody?

  • Legal Custody, where the custodial parent makes all decisions for the child
  • Physical Custody, where the child lives with one parent, but may not make all decisions solely
  • Sole Legal Custody, where the non-custodial parent is allowed no input into decisions for the child
  • Sole Physical Custody is often awarded when the non-custodial parent has abused or neglected the child. The child lives only with the custodial parent.
  • Joint Legal Custody is when both parents jointly make decision for the child.
  • Joint Physical Custody is when the child's living time is split between the two parents.
  • Shared custody is when both parents equally share the legal and physical custody of the child. Parents must be able to resolve all differences in a mature manner.

What is child visitation?

Child visitation occurs when the non-custodial parents gets to spend time with the child. A parenting plan is usually worked out to determine when visitation can occur.

What is a parenting plan?

The parenting plan is an agreement between that defines whom the child lives with and who makes decisions for the child. The parenting plan may include:

  • An alternate weekend visitation schedule
  • A midweek visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent
  • A holiday and recess schedule
  • An agreement for mother's day and father's day
  • An agreement for the child's birthday
  • A telephone contact agreement

Can a custody or visitation order be changed?

In the case of job relocation, re-marriage, or a parent's inability to comply with agreements, you may go to court to have the custody order or visitation agreement modified. Parents may choose to modify the agreement between them.

Does failure to pay child support affect the visitation schedule?

Child support is a separate issue than visitation. You cannot deny access to a child because of lack of payment.

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