Family Law: Custody and Visitation
Child custody issues tend to be the most heart-wrenching and problematic part of a divorce or separation. In all cases, the Court will operate with “the best interests of the children” in mind. Keeping this objective in the forefront, most families end up with a custody order reached by agreement. Those that cannot agree receive an order imposed by the court.
“Legal custody” has to do with decisions involving the children’s health, education and general welfare. It provides a parent with the right to meet with teachers and doctors despite the family structure. Some times this results in two parent-teacher conferences, two report cards, etc.
“Physical custody” has to do with who the children will live with and where they will sleep and spend their time. Child support laws are based solely upon the ‘physical custody” determination. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, joint physical custody is being awarded more frequently as courts acknowledge the need for both parents to have considerable time with their children.
The ideal outcome would be one in which both parents are satisfied with the agreement and will continue to be satisfied in the future. Custody agreements can be amended later on if something changes. For instance, job loss, job relocation, or permanent change in work schedule may require an amendment or modification to a custody agreement.
We counsel clients to think of all of the possibilities. This way parents can make their own decisions in regard to the custody of their children, rather than their lives being determined by the findings of a judge and an Order imposed by the court.
The family law attorneys at Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy & O’Connell understand the sensitivity of these legal issues. Each client comes to us with a unique situation and we are prepared to develop a legal approach that best fits the needs of you and your children.
Please contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your custody and visitation agreement.