Understanding the Child Custody Process

In a divorce or separation, the adults ending their relationship aren’t the only ones who are affected. Any children who are involved will have to cope with major changes, including how often they will see their parents.
Child custody is an important issue in any divorce. A child’s well-being must always come first in deciding custody. But how does the child custody process work, and how are any disagreements resolved?

What Are the Options for Child Custody?

Deciding who will care for a child involves considering various factors and is different in every situation. There are several types of custody arrangements that might be considered, including:

  • Joint custody–the parents share the responsibilities of caring for the children and making legal decisions. Joint custody does not mean that each parent necessarily gets equal time but that they have certain custody rights as outlined in their parenting agreement.
  • Sole custody–one parent has custody, with the other parent typically having visitation rights.
  • Split custody–each parent has sole custody of one or more children.
  • Third-party custody–neither parent has custody, and the child lives with a third party, usually a relative.

There might also be distinctions between physical custody (who cares for the child) and legal custody (who makes decisions for the child). In most cases, joint custody is the preferred outcome. However, sometimes this is impractical or unsafe, based on living arrangements, schedules, and the behavior of the parents.

How Does the Child Custody Process Work?

Ideally, the child custody process begins with a cooperative conversation. Divorcing couples who can work out the terms of a custody arrangement amicably and without the intervention of the court can usually resolve the matter quickly. The court still has to sign off on any parenting plan that comes out of these discussions, but this is generally not an issue.
Both parents should work with legal representation, even if they are able to discuss custody matters without getting upset. When it comes to custody rights, it’s important to have someone knowledgeable as a guide throughout the process.

How Are Custody Disputes Resolved?

If the custody negotiation process does not go smoothly, then the case might require mediation with a neutral third party or even court intervention. If a custody dispute is decided in the courtroom, then the process will be much longer and more painful for everyone involved. If the matter does come before a judge, they will look at all the factors involved and make a custody ruling that is in the best interests of the child or children.
If you need to work with your ex on a custody arrangement, give our San Antonio law firm a call at (210) 953-7486. Our experienced family law attorney has helped many parents in Texas protect their parental rights.