Terms You Need to Know Before Proceeding With a Child Custody Agreement

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Separating from your child’s other parent can be both stressful for you, your former partner, and your child. Whether or not you were married, child custody should be settled to solidify parental rights for both parties. If you’re seeking child custody advice, you’ll first want to understand the basics. You’ll need to know the common custody terms. Without knowing these, it can be tricky to articulate what type of custody you and your former partner are arranging.

  1. Legal custody is the authority that a parent has to make major decisions for your child. This include schooling, medical, religion, as well as moving. This can be rewarded to one or both parents.
  2. Physical custody determines the amount of time spent with the child. This can include living with the child as well as visitation. This can also be rewarded to one or both parents.
  3. Joint custody is when parents share both legal and/or physical custody. In these cases, arrangements have been made to map out when the child will live with each parent, as well as how parents will communicate about decisions regarding their child.
  4. Sole custody is when only one parent has legal and physical custody. The other may have visitation rights. In most cases where sole custody is filed, the mother is the custodial guardian. However, this is not always the case. Courts will often favor the mother’s side, but if you, as a father feel as if you are being wrongly excluded from your child’s life due to sole custody agreements in the mother’s favor, there are family law attorneys that specialize in parental rights for fathers.

    Additionally, if you, as a parent believe that the child’s other parent is unfit to make decisions or care for the child, a family law attorney can help you terminate parental rights for the other party.
  5. Whether you’re divorcing, separating, or if you were never married to begin with, before proceeding with a joint custody agreement you must create a parenting plan. This is a document that outlines how you and your former partner plan to raise your child. When you do not cohabitate, it is harder to make parental decisions that you both agree upon.

    This document will include a custody schedule, if applicable, that shows when the child will stay with each parent. This includes summer vacations and holidays.

    You should also outline your parental goals and intentions for your child in order to ensure that he or she has the best life possible. This is important for making sure that both parents are on the same page, as well as for ensuring that the child’s life is stress and drama-free post-separation.

If you are separating from your partner or have other questions regarding parental rights law, contact a family law attorney for clarification.

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