The Vastness of the Law

What Every Divorcing Parent Should Understand About Custody, Support, And More

As a parent in the midst of a divorce, you're going to find yourself facing all sorts of new decisions and problems. Some of the things that you need to sort out include custody, visitation, and child support details. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there that may confuse those who are new to the process. Here's a look at a few things that you need to know as you begin the divorce and custody settlement process.

There Are Two Different Types Of Custody

When it comes to child custody, there are two forms of custody that will be determined as part of your divorce and custody case. 

Legal custody refers to the responsibility for all major decisions regarding education, healthcare, and other life situations for the child. Parents can be awarded shared legal custody, which means that all decisions must be made mutually. Alternatively, one parent may be given sole legal custody, which means that parent has the final say in all of those major decisions.

In addition to legal custody, the courts will determine physical custody. This is the custody determination that stipulates where the child actually lives. Like legal custody, physical custody can be awarded as shared or sole custody, depending on the situation.

Custody And Visitation Aren't Tied To Child Support Payments

One of the most common causes of animosity between divorcing parents is when the custodial parent withholds visitation because a non-custodial parent hasn't paid child support or when a non-custodial parent thinks that they are entitled to visitation simply because they pay child support.

It is important to remember that child support is not connected to custody and visitation agreements. Child support is money awarded for the children. It is to provide for those children as they grow up. Whether or not you have visitation with your children, you still have a financial obligation to help support them. 

Likewise, failure to meet that financial obligation isn't a valid reason for a custodial parent to withhold visitation. Children have the right to see and spend time with both parents regardless of the support being provided.

Visitation Isn't Guaranteed

Many parents believe that, no matter what, they are entitled to visitation with their children after a divorce. This isn't the case. In fact, visitation isn't a guarantee during or after a divorce. If there is any reason to believe that visitation with the non-custodial parent could be detrimental or otherwise dangerous for the child, the courts may deny the right to visitation.

However, if you feel that this is necessary, it's important that you talk with your child custody lawyer right away to start building the case that you need to protect your child.

To learn more, contact a child custody attorney.