A major concern for divorcing parents is where their kids will be primarily
living at. Determining which parent will have custody of the children
can be one of the most contentious aspects of a divorce settlement. Although
it is better for children when their parents are able to amicably decide
custody arrangements, some parents have difficultly negotiating the terms
of their agreement and end up having to go to court to resolve their dispute.
In this blog, we answer 4 common questions that our clients ask us about
child custody disputes.
#1: What’s the Difference Between Legal & Physical Custody?
When we are talking about physical custody, we are referring to who the
child will be primarily living with and which parent is responsible for
their care. The parent who is awarded physical custody usually receives
child support payments from the other parent to help pay for the child’s
When we talk about legal custody, we are referring to decisions that have
to be made for the child, usually in areas like healthcare, education,
religion, and extracurricular activities. One parent is usually designated
to be the primary physical custodian, while the other parent gets to regularly
visit the child. Parents usually split legal custody 50/50, with both
of them having final decision making authority.
When parents can’t agree on the terms of legal and physical custody,
a court will decide for them. While it is common for a court to order
joint legal custody, 50/50 physical custody isn’t commonly ordered
#2: Who Gets Primary Physical Custody?
Although it used to be presumed that children should live with their mother,
this presumption is no longer followed by courts when deciding which parent
should be granted primary physical custody. Courts decide custody based
on what is in in the best interest of the child. When the dispute is particularly
contentious, courts might consider which parent is more cooperative when
making their decision.
#3: Can My Ex Prevent Me From Seeing My Children If I Am Late on Child Support?
Although parents are obligated to make their child support payments on
time, visiting your child is a separate issue if you end up being late
on or missing a payment. Withholding visitation rights from a parent because
of late or delinquent payments can result in legal action. Courts understand
that children are entitled to a relationship with both of their parents
and will determine what punishments are applicable for late or missing
child support payments.
#4: What Happens When a Parent Relocates After Divorce?
When a parent decides to relocate after their divorce, there needs to be
a change in the custody or visitation schedule to better accommodate the
needs of the child. The custodial parent does not automatically retain
custody if they decide to move, which means there is no guarantee they
will be able to take their child along with them.
Divorce settlements often contain provisions to address possible relocation beyond certain
distances. These provisions usually call for a review of custody which
requires courts to intervene if the parents can’t reach an agreement
on their own.
Are you currently going through a child custody battle with your ex? Our
Annapolis divorce attorney is prepared to help you defend your paternal
rights. Call (410) 593-0040 to request your free consultation today.