Is there anything that matters more to you than child custody?
Child custody is often the central issue in any divorce or legal separation. To one party or both, this legal issue may be more important than any other issue, including financial assets. In hotly contested child custody legal cases, there is no middle ground. Both parties are unwilling to cooperate in any way. There is only one conclusion: a court application and possibly a trial on this issue.
The better alternative is to have both parties work out a fair, reasonable and flexible child custody agreement that is in the best interest of the children involved and is mutually acceptable to both spouses. Jonathan Healey, the Principal of Healey Law, welcomes the opportunity to answer your questions about family law, parent rights and child custody. For example, you could ask about fathers rights, mother rights, joint child custody and child custody agreements.
“Developing a Child Custody Agreement takes patience, a lot of discussion and a full understanding of father’s rights and mother’s rights,” explains Mr. Healey. “There are a lot of things to consider in a Child Custody case, ranging from work schedules and vacations to school schedules and after school activities. But it is well worth the effort for everyone involved.”
Quick facts about child custody agreements
Definition of custody – An individual with custody is responsible for the care of a child. Both fathers and mothers have child custody rights under the law.
Who gets custody? – Courts strive to do what is in the best interest of a child.
Responsibilities – The individual who is granted custody or primary care gets to make decisions about:
- Day-to-day activities
- Medical care
Joint custody – When both parents are involved in the life of a child and make key decisions together, they have joint custody.
Key issues – Judges are particularly interested in knowing who cared for the child previously, the relationship between the care giver and the child, and what the person seeking custody plans to do if he or she is granted care of the child.
Home studies – When judges need more information about the child and the individual(s) seeking custody, they often order a Home Study, typically completed by a social worker, child psychologist or another individual appointed by the Court.
Children have a voice – Judges will consider the wishes of children if they are old enough and mature enough to express an opinion.
Applying for custody – You don’t have to be a parent to apply for custody. Anyone who has acted as a parent can apply for guardianship and custody.
Access rights – The party who does not have custody can spend time with the child and has the right to be informed about key decisions, but does not have the right to make decisions.