Child Custody Agreements in America

Child Custody can be awarded to either the mother or father

Child custody, also called child visitation, is a legal term in regard to guardianship that essentially refers to the legal and physical relationship between a custodial parent or legal guardian and a child that is in the care of that person. In most jurisdictions, this term also refers to the legal right parents have to make decisions about the children. This decision making process is often between the parents and not the custodial guardian. The courts will usually have a preference for a custody arrangement where there are regularity and stability in the relationships between the parents and the children.

There are two primary methods for obtaining Child Custody; through court orders and through a parenting plan. A court order is typically issued by a family court judge. A court order will outline the duties and agreements involving the children; this includes where the children will live during the times the parents and the children are not in court. The visitation rights of the parents will also be outlined in the court order. For example, if the parents live in different states, or in the case of separated parents, there will need to be written documentation indicating what the children’s rights are during the time the parents are not together. In the case of divorced parents, written documentation may be required as well.

the parties are considered jointly interested parties

Once a custody agreement has been finalized between the divorcing parents, the parties are considered jointly interested parties in the child custody dispute. If the divorce is contested, a parent can file a motion to the family court to become the exclusive guardian of the children. If the court agrees, the court will make a custody order. If the parent is unable to stay in the home, they must be served with a copy of the custody order and must accept it.

A custody order is legally binding. Unless both parents can agree on all aspects of the custody order, including whether or not they want joint physical custody, there will be a battle over who gets the children. In either case, the parent with the most influence has the advantage. This is usually decided by how motivated the parent is to protect the child.

ensure the child has adequate contact

There will also be several factors that go into the physical custody arrangements. The location of the home will be a major factor. If the parents live close enough to each other, or if the child spends a lot of time at one location, the physical custody arrangements will be more relaxed. If the parents live further apart, then custody decisions will be more difficult. The courts want to ensure the child has adequate contact with both parents, and they don’t want the noncustodial parent traveling across state lines to visit with the child.

During the entire process, both parents must be cooperative. Both parties must keep with the schedule set forth in the custody and visitation agreement, attend all visitation appointments, and be responsible with the other parent’s property. If any of these elements aren’t followed, or if a problem arises, the court may end up making a custody decision that is more favorable to the noncustodial parent. Even in the best cases, the parents will have to compromise on some issues to come to an amicable solution.

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