Child Custody and Timesharing: How Are Decisions Made?
Making decisions regarding custody and timesharing is the most difficult part of a divorce with children. Depending on the nature of the separation and how things are ending, the child custody decision may or may not be a clear decision. There are many factors that are considered in cases of this nature.
Decision-Making Authority and Time-sharing
There are two issues that must be addressed with custody matters: 1) legal decision-making authority, and 2) how much time the children spend with each parent. The presumption is that both parents will share decision-making authority for health, education and activities. It is rare that one parent has decision-making authority over the other parent even if one parent has more time with the children. For the time-sharing, the courts lean towards a 60%/40% split or 50%/50% time share with the children. However, the schedule the parents or court establish for each family varies widely depending on the circumstances. There are still cases in which the “traditional,” every other weekend exists.
Who Decides Child Custody?
In most cases, the parents are able to come to an agreement with regards to time-share and decision-making authority. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement, then the custody decision will be made by the court. In all custody cases, the judge will base his or her decision on the best interests of the children.
The separation or divorce will change the home and family circumstances for the child, so the goal of the court is to make this a decision that will benefit the children the most and lessen the drastic differences as much as possible.
What Factors are Typically Examined?
There are many different factors that are taken into consideration. The list below are some of the factors that are taken into consideration, but because case details can have wide variety, there may be other factors not listed below.
- The home and school history of the child(ren).
- The mental, moral, and physical status of each parent as an individual.
- The length of time the children have lived in a stable home and the desire to maintain continuity.
- The capacity of the parent to place the child(ren)’s needs above the parent’s needs.
- The ability of each parent, as an individual, to provide for the child(ren) and meet developmental needs.
- The ability of the parent to provide a consistent routine with discipline, homework, meals and bedtime.
- If there is any domestic violence in the home or a history of it.
- The existing ties, as well as love and affection, between the child(ren) and each parent as an individual.
- The capacity of the parent to be cooperative, honor the time-sharing schedule and accommodate reasonable changes.
- How involved and knowledgeable each parent is in and about the life of their child(ren), including interaction with friends, teachers, medical care, favorite things and even extracurricular activities.
- How the parental responsibilities will be divided up, even if some responsibility goes to an outside party, and how that will be managed by each parent.
The decisions made about your children are the most critical decisions in a divorce case. It is important that your attorney learn as much as possible about you and your family in order to advocate on your behalf. Contact The Bedell Firm at 904.353.0211.