Below are some questions that parties commonly ask when working with a child custody attorney. Feel free o call Vrsecky Law Firm at (336) 747-9800 with any other questions you still have unanswered.
Q: What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
A: Legal custody is the term used to describe allowing a parent to make decisions for a child regarding health, education, religion and other general welfare issues. In most cases, the parties are awarded joint legal custody, which means that both parties are awarded this right. Physical custody is the term used to decide where a child will reside. In most cases, sole physical custody is awarded to one parent and the child resides with that parent and has weekend visitation with the other parent. The Court may award joint or shared custody of the child, giving each party substantial time with the child.
Q: How does a judge make a decision about legal and physical custody?
A: A judge will conduct a hearing where witnesses can testify. The judge will consider many factors in rendering a decision. These factors include, but are not limited to, the relationship between the child and each parent, the current custodial arrangement, each parent's ability to provide a loving and stable home environment, the physical and mental stability of each parent, any past or present actions of each parent that may affect the child, and any other factor that would affect the best interests of the child.
Q: What standard must the judge consider?
A: The judge must make a decision based on what the judge determines is in the best interests of the child.
Q: Can a child tell the Court which parent he or she wants to live with?
A: A child can't decide which parent he or she wants to live with. It is up to the Judge to make that decision taking into consideration the best interests of the child. However, the older and more mature a child is, the more weight a judge can give to the child's wishes.
Q: Can you settle the issue of custody with your spouse?
A: Parents can always reach an agreement regarding legal and physical custody of their children. Parents often know what arrangement would be best for the overall health of their children. In fact, the law encourages this type of negotiation by requiring that the parties mediate the issue of custody with a third party before being allowed to seek a hearing in front of a judge.