Divorce may end a marriage, but it can also end other relationships that affect your family and finances. If you and your spouse share children, designing a custody agreement that works for all parties is smart. Unfortunately, designing a custody agreement is not always simple, since there is usually some discord and emotional distress between the divorcing spouses. If you and your spouse are divorcing, help creating a custody agreement that is suitable for all is available. Here are a few questions to ask when designing a custody plan with your attorney.
What Are Different Types of Custody?
Most people are surprised to learn there are so many different types of custody agreements available. Fortunately, the various options available will help you and your spouse agree to a custody design that suits you and your child's needs.
Joint custody is a common option for spouses who can compromise, but there are different types of joint custody to agree on.
For example, joint physical custody is also a possibility. Basically, this custody agreement allows both parents to split the time with the child.
Joint legal custody gives both parents the right to have time with the child while both having the right to make decisions on the care and overall well-being of the child. If parents who share joint custody cannot come to an agreement about a certain issue, the courts will make the decision.
Sole custody, which involves both physical and legal custody, may be given by the courts to one parent for different reasons. Visitation rights may be given to the parent who does not have sole custody, though.
Who Usually Gets Sole Custody?
A few factors come into play when determining which parent receives sole custody. In most cases, the courts will look at which parent is the primary caregiver or which parent spends the most time with the child.
In households where both parents work, mothers spend an average of 12.9 hours caring for the child while fathers spend an average of 6.5 hours per week as a child's caregiver. Because mothers tend to spend more time caring for the child, they are usually the ones who receive sole or primary custody.
It is important to note that the courts do not always make this decision. Many couples come to this decision on their own since they feel the children will be best cared for if the mother has sole/primary custody.
There are many exceptions, though. If a mother is not capable of providing proper care, sole custody may be awarded to the father. For example, if the mother has an addiction, a disability, or an illness, the father may need to have sole custody to ensure the child is cared for.
Can the Custody Agreement Be Changed?
Another question you and your spouse should ask is your custody agreement can be changed. In most cases, modifications can be made easily as long as you and your spouse are in agreement. This is common in cases where one parent's work schedule has changed. Or, if your child's schedule has changed due to a school schedule or extracurricular activity, they may need to spend more time at the other parent's home.
Unfortunately, the courts may need to be involved if you or your spouse only want to modify the custody agreement. A hearing may be scheduled if you or your spouse objects to a specific request to change the custody agreement that was initially set in place.
Custody agreements can be stressful and overwhelming in some cases. However, if you and your spouse make your child's needs a priority, designing a custody agreement does not have to be challenging.
Contact a law firm like New Direction Family Law for more information.