As parents take steps toward divorce, they will have to figure out the best way to continue raising their children. While courts always have the best interests of the children in mind when issuing orders related to custody and visitation, there are several options a court can choose depending on each family’s situation.
What courts evaluate when determining custody and visitation
Courts look at a variety of factors before approving or awarding custody and visitation to parents. These factors include:
- The relationships between each parent and the children
- The age of each of the children
- The emotional and physical health of each parent
- Each parent’s capability for taking care of their children
- The children’s home, school and community environment
How courts establish custody and visitation
The court will issue an order stating whether the parents are sharing physical custody, where the children divide their time living partially with each parent, or whether one parent has physical custody and the other parent has visitation rights, which means that the children visit with that parent but not live with them. While custody and visitation are ultimately decided by a court, the court usually accepts arrangements negotiated between the parents.
If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, then the court will establish the custody and visitation rights and schedule. A parent might have supervised visitation, scheduled visitation or reasonable visitation rights where there is no specific schedule and the parents work out what best fits their family.
Creating a clearly defined parenting plan with input from both parents that focuses on the best interests of the children is one tool that parents can use to raise emotionally secure children after divorce. Parents may want to work together during the divorce process with the assistance of their lawyers to negotiate an arrangement that works for their family.