Divorcing your spouse when you have minor children comes with a lot of moving parts. Not only are you tasked with what to do with your own life after the divorce, but you have to decide the changes you are going to make in your child’s life, as well. Creating your child custody agreement will provide them with structure, security, and safety.
A parenting plan encompasses how your children will be supported and who will be caring for them. It’s understandably a hard task for some parents because both want to spend as much time as possible with their children but agreeing is what’s best for your children.
Before you can get to the court accepting your parenting plan as an official document in your divorce, you need to know your options. It’s important to know what you are petitioning for and the rights you will have within your custody agreement.
Types of Custody
Sole Legal Custody
Sole legal custody gives you the legal right to be the only decision-maker regarding your children’s upbringing. It gives you the right to be the only person to make legal decisions on behalf of your children until they reach legal age. The decisions you will have full control over include: extracurricular, education, religion, and non-emergency healthcare. It is important to note that having sole legal custody does not guarantee you will have sole control over where your children live (primary physical custody).
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody splits the decisions on your children’s well-being between both parents. The major decisions of extracurricular, education, religion, and non-emergency healthcare are to be discussed together between both parties. However, if they cannot come to an agreement, then one parent will have tie-breaking authority. It is meant for parents who are both able, willing, and available to make important decisions regarding their children. Assuming there are no legal reasons why both parents cannot care for them, joint legal custody is presumed to be in the best interests of your children. It gives both parents a say in their children’s lives but it is not uncommon for parents to share legal custody but not physical custody.
Primary Physical Custody
Primary physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent spends with their children. With primary physical custody, you would have your children the majority of the time while their other parent will typically have regularly scheduled visitation. This would give you more responsibility for your children since they will primarily be in your care. When deciding to request primary physical custody, you have to take into consideration how much time you have to devote to your children and the kind of life they will have living alone with you.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody splits the time you have with your children equally. This agreement works best when both parents are able and willing to as involved as possible with the daily aspects of raising their children. This gives you both a say when it comes to living arrangements. Joint physical custody works best when parents live a reasonable distance apart so the children can easily attend school when in each parent’s care. This custody arrangement is usually awarded when it is most beneficial for the children to have both parents in their lives.
The decision of which type of custody you want depends on many factors. Your relationship with your ex and how they treated your children while you were together is a huge determining factor for you and the court. You should also take into account that the court looks into the best interest of the child in determining custody.
Agreeing with your ex is not always possible and, in those cases, the court will ask you both to submit a plan separately. Letting the court decide might not have the result you are hoping for, which is why we advocate for concluding beforehand.
If you are ready to talk to a lawyer regarding your divorce and creating a parenting plan that best fits you and your children, contact JMG Law Firm today.