Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody

What are the most common visitation arrangements?

The most common types of child visitation rules include:

  • Alternate weekend visitation with the non-custodial parent.
  • Sharing of the child according to fall, spring and summer school recessions
  • Mid-week visitation
  • Altering holiday visits
  • Alternate birthdays
  • Open telephone contact
  • Exchange while “playing it by ear” without court order

My husband and I are in the process of getting a divorce. I don’t like the current custody order. Can I file for custody in another state?

Looking for a favorable judge was a common practice for years and caused disarray in divorce and custody laws. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) was therefore adopted by all states in order to hinder conflicts in jurisdictions between states. The new arrangements dictate that a child must have lived in the state for a certain period of time for custody of children in divorce to be effective. Unless there is some sort of emergency, custody orders must be filed in the present home state.

How important is homosexuality in determining custody?

Laws regarding sexual orientation vary from state to state. Some states make no differentiation between homo-and heterosexual lifestyles and only look for the criteria that are important when it comes to raising a child. If a gay parent is found to be the better caretaker, custody will be awarded and if it turns out that the lifestyle of the gay parent is not conducive to raising the child, child custody litigation will be denied.

Certain states, however, view homosexuality as detrimental, wrong and certainly not as “in the child’s best interest.” In those states, it might be of the gay parent’s best interest to consult a psychologist or any other kind of credible home-evaluator in order to present the child custody courts with insights about the home environment.

My wife and I are getting a divorce. I don’t plan on remarrying in the near future, but I would like to have custody over our child. Does marital status affect custody or visitation?

No. Regardless of marital status, the court is trying to find out which parent will be the better care-taker and which living situation is in the child’s best interest.

My ex-husband is not paying child support. Can I prohibit his visitation right?

Child support Laws and child visitation cases are different issues that don’t depend on each other. Visitation rights are typically ordered to remain as much of the family environment as possible for the child’s sake. Therefore, not paying child support can’t be “punished” with taken away visitation time, as this would finally only hurt the child.

Can child custody orders be modified?

Definitely. We live in a very mobile and constantly changing society and ex-spouses might come to an agreement over time, realizing that the previous custody orders are not what they want anymore. In such cases, it is best to put any changes into writing and go back to court.

Alternatively, it is expected that a child’s preference of which parent it wants to spend most time with and ultimately live with change over the course of time. Especially, if the child has expressed a change in behavior of the present custodial parent, the court will be really sensitive to that substantial change of circumstance. Always, with the child’s best interest in mind, court orders should be evaluated on a periodical basis.

What is a parenting plan?

Parenting plan is a term that refers to an agreement between parents or the court order, which defines provisions for custody and visitation. While the parenting plan decides when the child can be with the non-custodial parent, it also determines which one of the parents has the better ability to make decisions concerning the child’s education and health.

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