LAW OFFICE OF                                 SHAWN DICKERSON


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How do you determine physical custody in a divorce?


One of the most challenging aspects of a divorce that includes minor children is deciding when and who shall have physical custody. Developing a timeshare schedule, sometimes called a parenting plan, or custody and visitation agreement, can be further complicated by a variety of factors, including location of separate households and work schedules.  For assistance in developing a parenting plan or getting physical custody of your children, please contact our office.

There are different types of custody. Physical custody refers to where the children live now and how they spend their time. For example, where do they carry out their activities and day to day care. Physical custody can be sole or primary, which means the children live with one parent most of the time and usually visit the other parent. Joint Custody means that the children live with both parents. Joint physical custody does NOT mean that the children spend equal time with each parent. Usually the children will spend a little more time with one parent than the other because it is too difficult to split the time exactly in half.  When one parent has the children more than half the time, sometimes that parent is called the primary custodial parent.

Along with physical custody, there is also legal custody, which refers to who makes important decisions about the children.  This includes school, child care, religious activities, mental health care, dental care, travel, etc. Legal custody can also be sole, where only one parent has the right and responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education, and welfare of the children. Legal custody may also be joint, where both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about health, education and welfare of the children.

With a written plan, the children will know what to expect and when.  Children thrive on routine, so a timeshare schedule is typically beneficial for children. A timeshare schedule can give children a sense of security and routine.  It is helpful to think about the following tips when developing a timeshare plan:

*Consider the child’s age, personality and abilities

*Consider the child’s attachment to each parent and to his/her siblings

*Be flexible.  Every child is different so adjust the plan according to the child

*Use a calendar to share between the child (if age appropriate) and the parents, caregivers, etc.

*Work with the other parent/caregiver to meet

Remember, this about the child, and even your language that you speak in front of them can make a big difference. For example, instead of saying, “wife” “ex-husband” or similar, try saying child’s mom, etc.

There is only one way to guarantee the best outcome for your situation. Call our office today or contact us online.