Family Law and Child Custody

June, 2015 by

Family Law and Child Custody

There are two types of child custody: physical and legal. In legal custody, a parent has the responsibility and right to make decisions for the child as to education, religious upbringing and medical care. Physical custody is a parent’s right to have a child live with him or her, and it can be joint or sole.

Child Visitation Orders

If one parent gets sole physical custody of the child, the noncustodial parent can usually get visitation rights. These rights allow the other parent to spend some time with their child. Type and frequency of visitation is either determined by the court, or it is left up to the parents to decide.

Modification of a Visitation or Child Custody Order

Parental rights can be modified at any time if the noncustodial parent’s living circumstances change significantly. The court can modify an order at any time, as can the parents by mutual agreement. State laws on child custody vary, and the court’s main concern is the child’s best interest. If the state uses that basis, the court can modify a custody order without justification.

The courts believe that a stable home is in the child’s best interest, and as a result, many jurisdictions use the “change in circumstances” test instead of relying solely upon the “best interest” doctrine. In these situations, family law judges only modify custody orders if the noncustodial parent’s circumstances have changed substantially. Such circumstances include:

  • The importance of raising the child in a traditional environment
  • The child’s increased age
  • Dramatic changes in one parent’s income
  • A parent moving out of state
  • Demonstration that the child’s living arrangement puts them at physical or emotional risk
  • A custodial parent’s refusal to allow the other parent to visit the child

Hiring a Family Lawyer for Custody Help

If you need a modification of visitation arrangements or child custody, it is best to talk to a family law attorney as soon as possible. Family lawyers at Vermontlawyers.net know how to deal with the intricacies of the family court system, and they can help you protect the bond you have with your child.

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