There is nothing more important in a divorce proceeding than maintaining the relationship between parents and children. It is best for parents to reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding custody and visitation. However, courts will enter orders regarding these issues if the parties cannot agree. Consulting an experienced custody and visitation attorney at our law firm can often help resolve issues of conflict.
It is always best if parents can reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation issues. Such an agreement makes it easier to comply with the orders that are entered. However, when parents cannot come to an agreement the court will enter an order regarding custody and parenting time. Formerly known as visitation, parenting time refers the time spent by a parent with the child, during which they have full responsibility for his or her physical well-being and daily activities.
Usually, the court will begin by entering temporary orders that apply while the divorce is pending. These orders often get entered shortly after the initial divorce proceedings are filed and continue until final orders can be entered. Such an order may be based on a temporary parenting plan submitted by the parents before the permanent arrangements are entered.
Courts can also order parents to mediation. During mediation, parents meet with a neutral person in an attempt to resolve their differences and reach an agreement. Parents can also include a provision in the divorce orders requiring that any future disputes be resolved through mediation.
If parents are unable to reach an agreeable parenting plan, courts will often order that an evaluation take place. This means that an independent expert will conduct an evaluation of the parents and children and make recommendations to the court regarding custody and visitation.
If child custody issues require a trial the court will enter orders it believes are in the best interest of the children. Factors that courts may consider in entering such orders include the age of the children, the children’s preference, which parent has been the primary caregiver, the physical and mental health of the parents, or any other relevant issue the court deems important.
Once a permanent custody and visitation order has been issued, certain procedures must be followed to change such orders. Change of custody and visitation can occur through mediation or through a court order. However, in many instances, the parent petitioning for a change must show a substantial change in circumstances. In most situations, the court will only consider changing a parental responsibility or parenting time order after a certain number of years unless the health or safety of the child is at issue. Any future modifications will be made under the new provisions in the law, possibly leading to significant differences for many family situations. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.