Here's What You Need to Know About Child Custody and Divorce

If you're facing a divorce, you may be feeling stressed or concerned about how you and your former partner will share custody of your children. Before you decide on custody arrangements, there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Divorce is rarely a straightforward process. When you and your partner choose to separate, you may be doing so under stressful circumstances. Each couple has their own reasons for terminating a marriage; however, it's important to understand that regardless of why you are separating, you'll need to decide how you want to handle child custody. When there are children involved in a divorce, the process can take longer. It may also be more complicated. If you and your partner disagree on how custody will be shared, the process may be even more challenging. No matter how many children you have, when you choose to divorce, there are a few things you need to understand about custody.

1. An evaluation may take place

First off, keep in mind that when custody is contested, an evaluation may take place. A custody evaluation is designed to let the judge know how the parents function as individuals and as a family unit. The goal of the evaluation is to determine which parent, if any, would be best suited to care for any children involved in the divorce. The person who evaluates the family may speak with each parent, with the children, with friends, and with associates. They may also speak with doctors or daycare providers to get a better understanding of how the family functions. The goal of any custody hearing is to ensure that the child's needs are met and that they receive the best possible care after the divorce. An evaluation is especially important in cases where one parent may have a problem with dependency or addiction and may be unsafe for the child to live with.

2. Custody could be given to a relative

Understand that in divorce cases where both parents are judged to be unfit, a grandparent or other relative may be granted custody of the child or children. In some cases, a grandparent or relative who cares for the child on a regular basis may request to be considered for custody. Some couples aren't aware that family members may request custody during a divorce, so be prepared that a relative may step forward and ask to be considered.

3. Parents might share custody

Even parents separate on poor terms, they may be granted joint custody of their children. There are different types of custody, such as legal and physical custody. A judge may grant both parents full shared custody or the judge may give one parent physical custody and both parents legal custody. It's important to understand that each couple is different and no two divorces are alike. When you have concerns about potential custody arrangements, consult with your attorney. They'll be able to offer advice that is specific to your particular situation.

When you and your spouse are preparing to separate, make sure you reach out to an attorney as early as possible. Your lawyer can help you understand custody options and choices and can assist you in moving forward.