Child custody determinations occur in matters of divorce and paternity cases. There typically two forms of child custody. The first is known as physical custody, which general means the home of the parent where the child(ren) shall primarily reside. The second form of child custody is known as legal custody, which mean the right of a parent to participate in the major decisions involving the upbringing of a child, such as educational pusuits or religious training, and major medical decisions, such as surgeries or whether mental health counseing is appropriate. A determination as to whether physical and/or legal custody of children should rest solely in one parent or jointly in both parents, is based on the best interest of the children. Custody may be determined by the court or through the agreement of both parties.
Third party child custody occurs when custody is granted to someone other than the biological and/or legal parents. Issues of foster parent custody, third party non-relative custody, relative and grandparent custody, access rights, and other proceedings outside of marriage dissolution very hot topics in the area of family law.
Visitation, now known as parenting time, addresses the developmental needs of children. Attorneys, with the assistance of other professionals in the field of child development, assist clients in tailoring parenting time plans that grow with the children and also address each family’s unique structure and set of famly dynamics.