Putting Family First
Nothing is more significant in a divorce proceeding than maintaining the relationship between parents and children. It is best for parents to reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding custody and visitation. However, courts will enter orders regarding these issues if the parties cannot agree. Consulting an experienced custody and visitation attorney at our law firm can often help.
Determination Of Parental Responsibilities And Visitation
It is always best if parents can reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation issues. Such an agreement makes it easier to comply with the orders. However, when parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will enter an order regarding custody and parenting time. Parenting time refers the time spent by a parent with the child, during which they have absolute responsibility for his or her physical well-being and daily activities.
Usually, the court will begin by entering temporary orders that apply while the divorce is pending. These orders often get entered promptly after the initial divorce proceedings are filed and continue until the completion of final orders.
Courts can also order parents to mediation. During mediation, parents meet with a neutral person to attempt to resolve their differences and reach an agreement. Parents can also include a provision in the divorce orders requiring that any future disputes resolve through mediation.
If parents cannot reach an agreeable parenting plan the court will order a parental evaluation. This means an independent expert will evaulate the parents and children and recommend a strategy regarding custody and visitation.
Child Custody Trials
If child custody issues require a trial, the court will enter orders it believes are in the children’s best interest. Factors considered in entering custody orders include: age of the children, children’s preference, which parent has been the primary caregiver, the physical and mental health of the parents, or any other relevant issue the court deems influential.
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Once a permanent custody and visitation order has been issued, only specific procedures can change them. Change of custody and visitation can occur through mediation or through a court order. However, in many instances, the parent petitioning for a change must show a substantial change in circumstances. In most situations, the court will only consider changing a parental responsibility or parenting time order after a certain number of years unless the health or safety of the child is at issue. Any future modifications will be made under the new provisions in the law, possibly leading to significant differences for many family situations.
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