A broken family is a family that has split up or divorced. This can happen for various reasons, such as financial problems, infidelity, or simply because the couple is no longer compatible. Whatever the reason, a broken family can be complicated for everyone involved.
Children in particular often have a hard time adjusting to a broken family. They may feel like they are to blame for the divorce or that they have to choose between their parents. It can be challenging for them to see their parents fighting, and they may feel like they have lost a valuable support system.
However, breaking up the family might also yield advantages for the child. For instance, children that grow from co-parenting strategies are likely to have better self-esteem than those who don’t. But settling into this kind of family can be harsh and complex, especially when it comes to the agreement as to who gets to keep the child. So here’s what you need to do and prepare for your child custody case.
It’s More Common Than You Think
The United States has one of the highest divorce rates worldwide. About 40 to 50% of first marriages in the US end in divorce, and the numbers are even higher for second or third marriages. So, if you’re going through a divorce, know that you’re not alone.
This makes child custody cases more common than in any country globally. Millions of custodial parents exist in the country, and this number continues to grow. The child custody process is considered the most draining part but one of the most crucial.
What is Child Custody?
Child custody is the legal term for deciding which parent will have responsibility for a child after a divorce or separation. Many divorce lawyers will undoubtedly tell you to do this if you want less complication in your life. However, the court will already make the child custody order as part of the divorce proceedings most of the time. This order will determine who the child will live with, who will decide about their welfare, and how much time the child will spend with each parent.
Types of Child Custody
Two types of child custody exist physical and legal custody. The former dictates where the child lives, and the latter dictates who can make life decisions for the child.
The court will decide what is in the child’s best interests when making a child custody order. The court will consider things like:
- The child’s age
- The child’s wishes (if they are old enough to express an opinion)
- The parent’s relationship with the child
- Each parent’s ability to care for the child
- The child’s physical and emotional needs
- The stability of each parent’s home environment
- Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse
Making a Child Custody Agreement
If you and the other parent can agree on who will have custody of the child, you can make your agreement. This is called a parenting plan, and you can make it as detailed or simple as you want. Once you have created an agreement, you should put it in writing, and both parents should sign it. This can make the process faster, as some child custody cases can go on for years.
If you cannot agree on custody, the court will decide for you. The court will examine the different factors given to them. The court may also order a custody evaluation to help them decide what is best for the child.
A custody evaluator is a mental health professional who will interview the parents and the child and observe the parent-child interaction. The evaluator will then make a report to the court with their recommendations for custody.
The court will make its decision based on the best interests of the child. The court may give custody to one parent or both parents. The court may also give joint legal custody but award sole physical custody to one parent. This is called split custody.
Once the court has made a decision, they will issue a written order called a parenting plan or a child custody order. This order will say how much time the child will spend with each parent and who will make decisions about the child’s welfare. There are many unique custody orders that exist out there, so it’s hard to determine what will be in yours. The order will also say how the parents will resolve any disagreements about the child. It is important to follow the custody order, as violating it can lead to serious consequences.
Both parents are legally obligated to follow the terms of the custody order. If one parent does not follow the order, the other parent can take them to court. The court may then order the disobedient parent to pay a fine or even jail.
Child custody can be a very difficult process, but it is important to remember that the ultimate goal is what is best for the child. Try to keep this in mind throughout the process. It’s also an essential part of co-parenting, and transitioning into it as fast as possible should be in your mind and your ex-partner’s mind as well.