Kids with Two Homes
With divorce rates soaring, many parents are faced with the obstacle of deciding who will get custody of their child. Fortunately there are several different custody options available, and today most parents at least have the opportunity to remain in an active role in their child’s life.
Legal custody is the situation where a parent has the right to make both long-term and short-term decisions for their child. In most custody cases, both parents are awarded legal custody. This makes it possible for parents to work together to make the best decisions for their child. Physical custody is where a parent is awarded the right to provide daily care for the child, but not all long-term decisions. Physical custody is generally granted to one parent, while the other parent will still have some sort of visitation rights. Sole custody is uncommon; it grants one parent both exclusive physical and legal custody of the child. Joint custody is also uncommon, because requires both parents to share legal and physical custody. Although many parents share legal custody arrangements, sharing physical custody means that the child will be living in both parents’ homes throughout the week, and creates an interrupted lifestyle.
There are usually two main ways that custody is determined. Parents can reach an agreement together, with or without the help of an attorney. If an agreement cannot be reached between parents, a court-appointed judge will determine custody. If there is no agreement between spouses and a judge has to make the decision of which parent will get custody, many factors will be taken into consideration. The decision will reflect the best interest of the children, making sure they are happy and secure. The judge will also look at the stability of the environment the parent will provide. Good interactions with extended family members, as well as a safe school and community are also important. Any previous cases of a parent having a drug or alcohol problem will always have a negative impact on gaining custody. The same holds true for previous instances of physical or sexual abuse.
No matter what form a custody agreement takes, it is important for parents to remain in good communication with each other for the sake of the child. This can be challenging at times, but ultimately is most beneficial to the child’s well-being. The task of having to tell a child about an impending divorce is also an opportunity to tell them just how much they are loved as well. It is important that you let children know that you will continue to take care of them just as you always have and that together, you will always remain a family.