In the case of a divorce or separation, children are one of the most important yet complicated aspects. Especially in a difficult, emotional case, the custody of your child or children can easily become a point of contention. Before beginning your court proceedings, it’s good to have an idea of the possible outcomes. If you’re seeking joint custody, there are still plenty of pieces to figure out. Here are some things to know before you get started.
(If you need more detailed information about custody, download our free guide today)
You likely already know, but in case you don’t, joint custody means that, to at least some degree, both parents share responsibility for their child or children. This is different than sole custody, wherein one parent has complete control and responsibility for the child or children’s well being as well as where they go to school, where they go to the doctor, or even where they practice religion.
If you’re aiming at joint custody, it’s important beforehand to be able to illustrate to the court why you are both responsible parents who can be held accountable for the child or children. As a father, if you’re moving out of the house, it’s key to get a new place of residence set up as soon as you can and especially one where your children can comfortably live. You and your former partner should also have discussed where your children will attend school and how you will manage that together beforehand.
Married parents are automatically granted equal share of the responsibility over their child, unless one parent is proven to be unfit they share custody equally. However, unmarried parents have different rules. Even if you live together, one parent could still legally have custody in the eyes of the law. The court requires unmarried parents to establish paternity of the child via either a DNA test, a court case, or a voluntary agreement from the mother and father.
Also, if the father and mother live in different states, a new set of laws also come into play governing the custody, such as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which determines which state’s laws apply to the child. It’s good to familiarize yourself with these rules and laws beforehand, and make sure you and your partner have discussed your ability to confirm you are the father to the court.
Joint Physical Custody
Physical custody determines who is in charge of housing and feeding the child as well as taking them where they need to go, such as school and medical care. In a case of joint physical custody, both parents share responsibility, usually on a rotating schedule, for physically caring for the child or children. It’s good to remember that a rotating schedule is not good for all children as it can be emotionally taxing to continue to switch homes, so make sure the schedule works for your child as well as your partner.
Joint Legal Custody
In joint physical custody, the children lives with both parents and both parents are responsible for that. However, in joint legal custody, both parents are responsible for the legal decisions regarding a child or children. This doesn’t just mean big legal decisions like school districts but also smaller ones like what doctor or dentist they will use.
This can be difficult if the parents have a large difference in income, where one parent may want to use more expensive services like a private school or out-of-coverage medical care. Therefore, as always, it’s good to talk to your partner before entering proceedings to make sure you’re both on the same page about these decisions.
Obviously, the best type of divorce is one in which both parties leave one another amiably and are therefore able to sit down and reasonably discuss the care of their children. This does not always work out well, as divorces and separations are often messy and carry a lot of difficult emotions. Regardless, if you can sit down before beginning your proceedings and figure out what your goals are and where you can see eye to eye when it comes to your child or children, it will benefit you once you actually enter the courtroom.
You’ll be presenting a case to the court and judge when discussing child custody, so just like in all types of cases, you’ll be expected to have evidence to why you and/or your partner deserve the custody you’re asking for.
To learn more about the process of filing for custody in Oklahoma, download our free guide below. Ready to start discussing your case? Give us a call today.