Did you know that, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, $108 billion worth of child support went unpaid just four years ago, in 2009? It’s plain and simple: divorce is complicated. Even uncontested divorces can get messy and out of hand when child custody arrangements come into play. What are the different types of custody arrangements, and are norms and traditionally held beliefs about child custody and care changing?
What Are Your Child Custody Options?
Twenty-nine percent of American parents reach custody decisions without mediation from a court or child custody attorneys, acccording to The Huffington Post. What different types of arrangements are available for parents and their children?
- Joint custody. Parents may decide on physical, legal, or physical and legal joint custody. Physical joint custody entails children alternating spending time at both parents’ homes. Legal joint custody gives parents equal rights to make legal decisions on their child’s or children’s behalf. Divorced couples can opt for both.
- Sole custody. Sole custody is exactly what it sounds like. Parental rights are granted to one party only.
- Split custody. In rare situations, parents, family law attorneys, or courts will choose to grant one parent custody of one child, and grant custody of another child to the other party.
If it comes to it, courts will determine custody by weighing “the best interests of the child.” Parents can aim to reach agreements without mediation by carefully considering each parent’s income, children’s emotional investment and current parent-child relationships, children’s education and schooling, and the living accommodations of each parent.
Are Child Care and Custody Norms Changing?
According to The New York Times, half of all fathers petitioning for sole custody of their children get it. Today’s child custody battles are, for the most part, proceeding without gender biased. Author Sally Abrahms reminds parents that, almost a decade ago in 1994, the majority of U.S. states abolished legislation such as the tender years doctrine. Up until that point, the tender years doctrine automatically granted mothers parental rights for children under seven. Although norms are changing, parents with any unusual circumstances should ask family and friends to recommend the best child custody lawyer. Teaming up with some of the best child custody lawyers can help you reach the most desirable outcome.
Child custody makes divorce messy. Familiarize yourself with the different types of child custody, weigh some of the most relevant factors, and consult with a lawyer if necessary. More on this.