Child Custody

When I started practicing law way back in 1972 it was almost automatic that the mother would always receive custody of the children, and the father would have visitation every other weekend from Friday after school until Sunday evening.

Custody law has evolved over the years so that now it is much more common to have equally shared parenting time rather than the father having every other weekend.

The statute now provides as follows:
While co-parenting the general assembly finds and declares that, in most circumstances, it is in the best interest of all parties to encourage frequent and continuing contact between each parent and the minor children of the marriage after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage. In order to effectuate this goal when appropriate, the general assembly urges parents to share the rights and responsibilities of child-rearing and to encourage the love, affection, and contact between the children and the parents.

 

parent holds the hand of a small child

As with other areas of family law, the child custody statute is very complex and involves many factors which can be given varying weight from the court. You should be aware that the court cannot tell you where to live, but the court can order where the children live. Therefore, where you decide to live after you separate is a very important decision and can ultimately effect who the court designates as the primary residential custodian.

In years past, the division of the children was characterized as “custody” and “visitation”.

About 10 years ago the legislature changed the terms and the sharing of the children is now described as the allocation of parental responsibilities for decision-making and for parenting time. Parenting time is general calculated by overnights spent with each parent. It is important to note that the initial decisions made in your physical separation from your spouse are critical and can have long lasting effects. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney prior to your physical separation.

Children playing picnic