Determining Custody & Parenting Time

What is custody?

Custody is a parent's legal right to control his or her child's upbringing. It may also be referred to as parenting. A parent who does not have custody will still likely be entitled to visitation, also known as parenting time with the child(ren). Both parents have a legal right to ask for custody and parenting time in a divorce proceeding.

What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?

Custody has two parts: legal and physical.

  • Legal Custody: The right to make major decisions about your child. This includes where your child goes to school, what kind of religious training a child receives, whether your child gets surgery.
  • Physical Custody: Who the child lives with on a day-to-day basis. A parent with primary physical custody is sometimes called the "custodial parent" or the child's "primary caretaker."

How will a judge decide custody?

When determining custody and parenting time, a judge will consider what is in the best interests of the child(ren). Some factors a judge may consider include:

  • Who has been the child's primary caretaker
  • The quality of each parent's home environment
  • How "fit" the judge thinks each parent is (stable home and lifestyle, good judgment, has a job, good mental and physical health)
  • Which parent the child is living with now, and for how long
  • Each parent's ability to provide emotional and intellectual support for the child
    Which parent allows the other parent into the child's life (does not try to cut out the other parent)
  • If the child is old enough, which parent the child wants to live with
  • Whether your child would be separated from any siblings
  • Whether either parent has been abusive

A judge must also consider whether there has been allegations or actual proof of domestic violence.

For experienced advice on your unique custody and parenting time situation, contact the Law Office of Peter L. Jameson, PLLC, by email or by calling 845-213-3364.