Navigating life as a newly separated dad can be challenging and stressful, and that’s not even considering all the ways the pandemic has affected family law. Now that we’re starting to get “back to normal,” you may be ready to proceed with the divorce and create a more regular schedule for your children.
Studies show consistency is very important to kids during their parents’ divorce, and a solid child custody arrangement is one of the best ways to create that stability. If you know nothing about child custody but you love your kids and want the best for them, you’ve come to the right place.
Here are some of the most important aspects of child custody during a divorce case. I recommend all divorcing dads discuss these components with a qualified divorce lawyer.
Joint Custody, Primary Custody, and Sole Custody
When it comes to physical custody, some arrangements are more common than others. The courts tend to favor 50/50 joint custody, so this will probably be the default arrangement if you end up in court. That being said, families often choose a physical custody arrangement based on unique factors: the parents’ work schedules, where the child attends school, the child’s extracurricular schedule, and more.
If you’d prefer primary custody of your child and your spouse agrees, your divorce lawyer for dads can help you present this arrangement to the judge. You can also request primary or sole custody of your child in court even if your spouse doesn’t agree to this proposed arrangement. However, this can be a challenge, so it should always be undertaken with the assistance of an attorney.
How Legal Custody Works
There are two types of child custody: physical and legal. Co-parents will generally be awarded equal legal custody independent of the physical custody order. The courts are very hesitant to award sole legal custody to one parent, so you can safely assume you’ll be making decisions with your ex until your child is an adult.
Parents who share legal custody must work together to determine how their child will be raised. Both parents are entitled to voice their opinion when it comes to medical decisions, education, faith, relationships with extended family, and more. The courts are very hesitant to get involved in these personal parenting decisions, so be prepared to thoughtfully determine a decision-making arrangement that works for your family.
Creating a Parenting Plan
If you get along with your co-parent and want to work together to create a plan for raising your child, I recommend a parenting plan. This document can take the place of a court-ordered custody arrangement when both parents are in agreement of the terms of the parenting plan. A parenting plan outlines the residential schedule of the child, but it can also include details about how the child will be raised. If you and your ex have worked out who will pay for things like extracurriculars and braces, these details can also be included in the plan.
A parenting plan may be beneficial for cooperative divorcing spouses because it requires less time in court and may be more easily modified than a court-ordered custody arrangement. Speak to a men’s rights divorce attorney to determine whether a parenting plan is best for your child.
Co-Parenting with a High Conflict Ex
Not everything is sunshine and roses when it comes to divorce. Many spouses can’t even stand to be in the same room by the time they finally file to end their marriage. However, these couples are often tethered to each other even after their divorce because they have children together – which means they don’t have a choice.
You may be prepared to put aside your differences and co-parent effectively, but that doesn’t mean your ex will be cooperative. If you’re divorcing a narcissist, or if your spouse simply has a high conflict personality, you’ll have to carefully navigate your divorce to obtain the best outcome for yourself and your child. I recommend asking any potential divorce lawyers whether they’re prepared to handle your high conflict ex’s tactics.
Petitioning for Emergency Custody
In rare cases where your child’s well-being is at risk, you may be forced to petition the court for emergency custody. This is only successful in severe cases where a child faces abuse, neglect, or a significant safety concern while in the care of one parent. If your ex wife has a history of abusing or neglecting your child, if she is using alcohol or drugs around your child, or if her mental health has become dangerous for your child, discuss your options for emergency custody with your divorce lawyer for men and fathers. Your child’s safety and well-being always comes first.
If you’re a New Jersey father who wants the best for your kids during and after your divorce, creating a solid child custody schedule is a great place to start. The Micklin Law Group’s child custody lawyers focus on men’s and fathers’ rights, so we know how to negotiate a custody arrangement that honors your special relationship with your child. Contact our team to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about our attorneys.