Custody

Custody, Support and Parenting Time are three main issues that the courts must often decide in contested divorce proceedings.

There are two types of Custody: Legal and Physical.

Legal custody concerns itself with decision making that affects the child such as religious preferences, choice of school, and medical care decisions. Legal custody is often shared among the parties, but the court always looks to what’s in the Bests Interests of the Child when there is a dispute.

Physical custody concerns itself with where the child resides. This form of custody usually vests with one parent, and even in cases where Joint Custody is awarded, one parent usually has more time with one parent than the other. Most custody disputes concern themselves with Physical Custody and the matter can often become emotionally and financially taxing if not handled properly by a trained attorney.

The “best interests of the child” are measured through a law which mandates that the following factors are to be used by the judge:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and continuation of the educating and raising of the child in the child's religion or creed, if any;
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved;
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved;
  • The home, school and community record of the child;
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference;
  • The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent; and
  • Any other factor considered by the Court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.