When a marriage or a relationship that resulted in children dissolves, and the parents are unable to make a child custody determination without court intervention, the court will make the custodial decision.

Regardless of whether you and your spouse are separating and attempting to establish child custody or attempting to alter a prior child custody agreement, an experienced Arlington child custody attorney, who is prepared to answer your questions and get you the best outcome, is imperative to the success of your case. A knowledgeable family attorney in Arlington can help you craft a case to help produce a successful outcome on your behalf.

Types of Child Custody

A changing family dynamic can be stressful, confusing, and have a significant impact on those that were the least involved in the changing family dynamic – the children.

Child custody can be determined by stipulation of the parties, which is preferable, or by a court determination using the best interest of the child standard.

In child custody cases, the court can award a parent with legal custody and/or physical custody.  Legal custody can be joint or sole custody and physical custody can be shared or awarded primarily to one parent. Customarily, the court will find, absent extenuating circumstances, that both parents being actively involved in their child or children’s lives is consistent with the interest of the child. Such processes can be best explained by an Arlington child custody attorney.

Physical Custody

Physical custody means that the child resides with the parent that has physical custody more than 50 percent of the time. The parent that has primary physical custody is typically the parent that receives child support.

Shared Custody

Shared custody is a term that applies to a physical custody arrangement where the parents both receive substantial amounts of custodial time with the child or children.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the term used to describe the parent that has primary decision-making rights about medical issues, school, religion, and extracurricular activities.

Joint legal custody is the most common legal custody arrangement.  Under this arrangement, regardless of physical custody, the parents have an equal right to make determinations about their child’s future.

Sole legal custody differs, however, in that one parent is given total decision-making authority for the child. Sole custody is commonly limited to situations where a parent can be a danger to the child, such as the parent suffering from a mental illness or untreated drug addiction.

Basis for Deciding Custody

The decision about what type of custody should be awarded to either parent is determined after considering multiple factors, including, the needs of the children, the existing relationship between each of the parents and the child or children, and the child or children’s wishes, depending on their age.

When determining parental visitation, child custody, and allocation of parental responsibilities, the courts will decide the most suitable option, based on the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child standard, however, can be as difficult to navigate as family dynamics can be.

In these situations, an experienced Arlington child custody attorney can assist to explain the allocation of parenting time, all of the factors in determining the best interests of child, and help a parent to understand the potential outcomes of a child custody case based on the court’s considerations.

Benefit of an Attorney

In situations involving one parent moving out of state, it can be problematic for parents to understand the best resolution to a custody or visitation dispute. Justifiably, all parties tend to be more emotional, which makes it vital that a parent be represented by a knowledgeable child custody attorney in Arlington.

An experienced lawyer will have the knowledge and skill to advise a parent on the complex issues relating to the allocation of parental responsibilities.

Additionally, a skilled Arlington child custody attorney will strongly advocate for a parent’s rights, especially in a child relocation or child removal case, while providing solutions that are in the child or children’s best interests.