When two people get a divorce, the accumulated assets of the marriage are divided equitably between the two parties based on many factors. While this can become a contentious issue, it generally pales in comparison to the heightened emotions that often surround child custody decisions.
Naturally, every parent wants what's best for his or her child or children. If both parties can agree upon a solution, so much the better. Mediation or another form of alternative dispute resolution may be the best way to make decisions regarding children for some couples.
For many, however, the issue must be brought before the court. Based on submitted evidence, arguments made and personal interviews, a judge will rule on both legal and physical custody of the children of a marriage.
Legal vs. physical custody
The parent awarded legal custody has the power to make major choices about his or her child's life. These decisions may impact the following issues:
- Religious upbringing
- Choice of school
- Medical care
- Dental care
Legal custody may be granted either jointly or given entirely to one parent. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. As with legal custody, physical custody can be either shared, called joint custody, or it can be awarded to one parent, which is sole custody.
The decision of the court will be based on what the judge feels is in the best interest of the child. Factors used to determine "best interest" may include:
- Parents' mental and physical health
- Any history of abuse/violence
- Work schedules
- Child's desires
- Parents' individual income
Financial ramifications of child custody decisions
For a working parent, especially one enjoying a successful career or running a business, winning sole custody may be a challenge, despite any financial advantage over his or her spouse. Shared custody is a popular option for many parents today.
The decisions made about a child's future will have a direct financial impact on you, especially if you are the parent providing child support. It is important to have a say in what goes on with your child, so you may wish to push for joint legal custody.
Whatever outcome you hope to obtain from your divorce, whether regarding child custody, child support or any other aspect of a dissolution of marriage, you are probably facing a myriad of decisions that could have a dramatic effect on your future.
An attorney from a full-service law firm may be a valuable ally in your divorce proceedings. Having access to a lawyer with extensive resources regarding not only divorce, but also business affairs, may allow for the results you most desire.