When parents are living apart, you have to go through the courts to determine who will receive custody of the children and how the situation will play out. Leaving the future of your children in the hands of the courts is nerve wracking for many parents, so they turn to their child custody lawyer in Weatherford to ask important questions. Here are 6 of the common questions parents ask and the answers that their attorneys give:
Will One Parent Get Custody?
Although it differs based on the state in which you live, most courts will work hard to make sure that both parents have equal time with their children. They will strive to give parents joint physical and/or legal custody. Depending on the needs of the children, one parent may have primary custody. The children may live with that parent in order to maintain their regular schedule with school, extracurricular activities, and religious activity.
Will Only Parents Get Custody?
The courts will consider the children's best interests. If their parents struggle from substance abuse, addictions, or mental health illnesses, then the courts may grant someone other than a parent temporary custody. The situation will be similar to foster care, but the courts will work to unite the parents and children when possible.
What Factors Are Taken into Consideration?
When deciding which parent should have primary custody, some of the things that are taken into consideration include the children's school, community, religion, age, gender, physical health, mental health, personal preferences, and emotional attachments. The court will also take the parents’ health and lifestyles into consideration. Courts want to make sure that the children will be well cared for and will be able to have continuity while maintaining some level of stability when their parents are no longer living together.
Are the Courts Biased?
Some people worry that the courts will be biased. Perhaps they have a different orientation, race, religion, or other characteristic that would make prejudiced people think that they are unfit for parenting. This type of thinking is illegal. If you believe that the courts refused your rights to custody due to a bias, your attorney should help you appeal the decision.
One factor that can change the court’s decision is a child’s age. If the child is 5 years old or younger, most courts will choose to have the mother as the primary caregiver during the formative years. Of course, the courts still want to do what is best for the child. If the mother is unfit to care for the children, then the courts should be made aware of those extenuating circumstances.
Who Determines Reasonable Visitation?
The non-custodial parent will be awarded reasonable visitation. The parent with physical custody can choose what this means, but most courts will have parents agree to a parenting plan. The plan should say when each parent gets to spend time with the children. If one of the parents refuses to follow the plan, then the other parent can contact the authorities. Non-custodial parents can also speak with their attorneys to find out what steps can be taken to ensure that their right to spend time with their children is respected.
What about Child Support?
Child support is a separate decision from child custody. Child support isn't contingent on whether you spend time with the children. It's important to follow the decisions of the court and stay on top of child support payments.
If you have any other questions regarding your rights to your children, then you should address that with your child custody lawyer in Weatherford. You can get the answers that you need to protect your parental rights.
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