Custody & Visitation

The overriding principal in custody is “Best Interest of the Child. “There are two types of custody to consider: Physical (Residential) and legal, which results in Joint or Sole Custody. Absent a reason, the non custodial parent has a right to visitation. The court’s decision will be fact specific to your case alone and the court typically considers the following factors in making its determination:

  • Existing Orders of Custody
  • Parent’s Finances
  • Child Abuse/Neglect
  • Age of Parents
  • Primary Caretaker
  • Domestic Violence
  • Law Guardian’s Report
  • Home Environment
  • Mental Health of Parent
  • Child’s Preference
  • Alcohol/Drug Use
  • Availability of Parent
  • Health of the Parent
  • Siblings

Physical Custody vs Legal Custody

Physical custody is often referred to as Residential Custody and refers to the place where the child resides. Legal custody refers to a spouse's continued involvement in the day-to-day life of the child. Major consideration is given to religious beliefs, medical treatments and education in reaching a decision.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

Joint Custody orders are commonly mistaken for orders of visitation. A Joint Custody order does not refer to a shared residential plan. Provided both parents can come to a decision, both parents will jointly share in the rearing of the child. Sole custody makes one party the final decision maker of the best interests of the child and is typically awarded after a contested custody battle.

Child Visitation

This is often described as a child parenting plan which involves a detailed set of dates and times, including holidays, birthdays and work week schedules, that allows ample time for the parent to share in the life of the child.

Problems often arise when a parent either ignores his/her scheduled visits or is somehow prevented by the other parent from seeing his/her child. The emotional toll on the child can be devastating and the court evaluates these matters based on the frequency of occurrences, the cause of the missed visit, and the willingness of the parties to compensate and schedule make-up visits