No relationship is easy, and even the most successful and happiest ones have been through some hardships. Things tend to get more complicated when kids are involved as they are stuck in the middle of the entire situation, and if a relationship is nearing an end, thinking about custody can be very difficult.

Not everyone knows all that much about the actual legal issues that might come up and hence there are always a lot of questions on this topic, and in this article, we are going to discuss the most prominent ones.

Married partners – do they have equal rights?

Maintaining parental rights as well as the welfare of the kids are the biggest concerns when it comes to separation. As Bryan K. Levy, a specialist when it comes to high conflict child custody cases from explains, the answer to the question in the title is yes – married couples get to maintain equal parental rights over their children. He goes on to explain that this is talking in general – if there are some problems regarding specific individuals, a family court can indeed order otherwise.

Do parents need to be divorced?

In most cases, separation actually occurs before the divorce is actually filed, which leaves the parents in such a situation two options in this period. Parents can either file a petition with the court regarding assigning them as the custodial parent, while the other parent gets assigned as a non-custodial, and the visiting rights are defined. Another option is to deal with the situation internally without the court being involved. In any case, the parents should always try to put their own disagreements aside at this point, as the best interest of the children should always be the top priority.

How is the likelihood for custody determined?

No matter the dispute between parents, the courtsโ€™ main consideration when it comes to determining custody is always going to be based on what is in the best interest of the children. That being said, the court is primarily going to evaluate to what extent is each parent able to provide a safe and stable environment for the children, and secondarily, the wishes that each parent has expressed.

There is a great fear among fathers that the court is, without a doubt, going to provide custody for the mother indefinitely, especially regarding children aged four or younger. While this was the case before, it no longer is. Nowadays, both parents share absolutely equal rights regarding custody, and in most cases, joint custody legislation is the standard arrangement. Fathers that have experienced a violation of their rights, and hence were denied custody just due to the fact that they are fathers, should definitely speak with a family lawyer.

Legal and physical custody – whatโ€™s the difference?

Many people arenโ€™t aware of what these terms mean exactly, so, letโ€™s talk about them.

  • Physical custody –  As the name already suggests, physical custody determines which parent is the one with whom the children are going to live, as well as who has control over the children. Of course, in most cases, the other parent does retain their visitation rights. The only reason where this isnโ€™t the case is in the situations where the court has deemed it to be against the best interest of the child.

Even though the first consideration of parents when it comes to assessing custody is where their children are going to be staying,  a legal aspect to child custody needs to be resolved soon after as well.

  • Joint legal custody is a legal arrangement where it is entailed that parents share responsibility for all of the major decisions regarding their children. Of course, this arrangement can vary in a lot of different aspects.

What do the visitation rights entail?

When it comes to the parents that arenโ€™t granted physical custody, visitation rights are one of the most important aspects of the legal process. In most cases, the non-custodial parent does get at least some portion of visitation rights, but there are also cases in which the court ends up entirely prohibiting visitations if they see it fit regarding the best interest of the children.

In most cases, emotional and/or physical abuse are the major reasons for the denial of visitation rights, but there are also various other instances in which a parent might be judged unfit or unable to properly care for the children. In some cases, the parentsโ€™ living situation and the financial situation can also play a big role in the decision regarding visitation rights.

There is no easy way to end a relationship, especially if kids are in the picture, but there are a lot of ways for you to minimize the hardship. Even if you arenโ€™t on good terms with your partner, making sure that you do your research and have a good attorney to guide you through the process is going to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.

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