Child custody and visitation is one of the most difficult aspects of getting divorced, especially if one parent wants sole legal custody. In the past, Courts have frequently given mothers physical custody and fathers receive visitation. However, modern Courts have begun to realize equal contact with both parents is often in the child's best interest and have done a remarkable job of creating shared custody scenarios.
In order for a court to grant custody, the court must find that the custodian is a fit and proper person and that custody with that person is in the best interest of the children.
Physical custody is the right and obligation of a parent to have a child live with the parent. Legal custody is the right and obligation to make decisions about a child's upbringing, including school and medical care. In most cases, the parents have joint legal custody, even if physical placement of the child is with one parent.
If custody is contested, courts make a decision on a custody arrangement by the best interest of the children. In these situations, the Court considers stability and continuity, communication and respect between the parties, degree of conflict between the parents, and agreement about child rearing practices.
Visitation is the right to see a child on a regular basis, generally given to the parent who does not have physical custody of the child. Visitation plans should be specific so as to avoid any possible conflicts and avoid confusion.
Custody and visitation schedules are always subject to change when circumstances affecting the child's best interests change significantly. Once the conflict of custody and a visitation schedule is settled, there are certain policies that must be followed in order to modify the arrangement. If custody and visitation were determined through a court, the parties will have to return to court in order to modify said arrangement.
If you would like to schedule a initial consultation contact an Iowa family law attorney, representing clients in Waterloo, Iowa at the Dillon Law P.C. Give us a call at (563) 578-1850 or complete our inquiry form.