Child Custody & Visitation
Custody and Visitation Issues can often be the source of high conflict between the parties in a divorce or paternity proceeding. The goal of any custody proceeding should always be for the parents to have a co-parenting relationship, so that the emotional well being of the children is preserved through this difficult process.
Parents need to work issues out for the sake of the children. If the matter ends up in Court, in the absence of domestic violence or substance issues, the most important consideration for the Judge in determining custody is which parent promotes, encourages, and facilitates frequent and continuing contact between the children and the other parent. Generally, that parent will be awarded significant custodial time, which will likely include Joint Legal as well as Joint Physical Custody. Legal terminology is often somewhat confusing. Joint Legal Custody means that the parents share in the decision making process on all major issues that affect the health, safety, and welfare of the child. Joint Physical Custody means that it is contemplated that each parent will spend significant periods of time with the child.
Custody and Visitation issues should not be couched in terms of win/lose. In my experience as a Judicial Officer, I rarely found that a custody trial benefited anyone. The parents were usually upset with each other as a result tf the negativity of the proceeding, and the children usually suffered emotional upheaval as a result. Oftentimes, the parent who was most negative would have their custody time minimized. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having each parent put their best foot forward to minimize the stress on the children.
Mediation is the best alternative to resolve any custody or visitation disputes. With the help of trained professional counselors, most issues can be settled by the parents in an amicable manner, allowing the parents to co-parent their children in a manner that provides the children with a comfort level that they need to maximize their positive individual growth.