In a contentious child custody battle, there are no winners, only losers, and the child is the biggest loser of all. Too often, the principle of the best interest of the child drives parents into a frenzy of attempting to prove the other parent is worse. When children are exposed to parental conflicts of this nature, it can be detrimental to their emotional health, scholastic performance, and overall wellbeing.
When parents fail to reach an agreement on custody issues and it is left to the courts, it typically is determined by mental health practitioners working with limited expertise and little oversight. Additionally, court custody battles are expensive, unpredictable, and emotionally exhausting. A bitter battle over custody is certainly not in the best interests of the child.
Even though spouses in the process of ending their marriage may disagree on nearly every issue, they usually share a genuine desire to do what is best for their children. This common ground can be used to open communication between the parties, enabling them to reach a practicable agreement. There are several types of custody to be considered:
- Physical Custody – A parent who has been given sole physical custody will provide the child’s primary residence. The other parent typically has visitation rights. In some cases, joint physical custody may be practicable when the parents live in close proximity and the child spends significant time with each parent.
- Legal Custody – Parents with legal custody have the obligation and right to make major decisions about issues such as medical care, religion, and education. Joint legal custody allows both parents to participate in making decisions.
- Sole Custody – A parent may have sole physical custody, sole legal custody, or both. Sole physical custody is relatively common, as this allows stability and a regular schedule, restoring a sense of normalcy for the child. However, joint physical custody is becoming increasingly common as the courts strive to keep both parents active in a child’s life. In cases of sole physical custody, visitation is becoming increasingly generous.
- Joint Custody – Parents may have both joint physical and legal custody, although sole physical custody and joint legal custody is the most common arrangement.
With an understanding of the various options available, a desire to do what is best for the children, and the guidance of knowledgeable, compassionate attorneys most couples can reach an agreement. For immediate assistance from an experienced attorney who will strive to minimize the impact this difficult situation can have on your family, Call David M. Siegel and associates at (847) 520-8100 for a consultation.