4 Common Child Custody Dispute Questions

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 living expenses.

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 by courts.

#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.