Any issues involving children are of the utmost importance, including child custody. Custody can have a strong impact on children, parents, and their lives moving forward. When facing a child custody dispute, the child always comes first.
Custody cases can be demanding and exhausting. Fortunately, a child custody lawyer in Brookhaven can help.
What Is Child Custody?
Child custody refers to a child’s guardianship situation. Depending on the circumstances, a child may live with one parent or share time with both parents. The ability to make decisions for a child is also considered part of a custody arrangement.
Child custody is not one-size-fits-all, as there are many types and combinations of custody. What works best will depend on your particular situation.
Physical custody has to do with where the child physically resides. Parents frequently share physical custody of their children. While not as common, a judge also has the discretion to grant only one parent physical custody if they believe that is what’s best for the child.
Legal custody refers to the ability a parent has to make important decisions regarding their child. These decisions include those having to do with a child’s education, medical needs, and religion.
Usually, if the situation permits, parents share legal custody of their children. This allows both parents the opportunity to work together to make the best possible decisions for their children’s lives and futures.
Sole custody, also referred to as full custody, entitles a parent to exclusive custody of their child. The judge may grant one parent sole physical and legal custody or grant one parent sole physical custody with shared legal custody.
Joint custody, as the name implies, allows both parents to share custody of their children. Joint custody can mean shared physical custody, legal custody, or both. In the best cases, both parents have 50/50 physical and legal custody, giving children the chance to have a healthy family dynamic.
What Is Visitation?
When a parent has physical custody of their child and the child primarily lives with them, they are referred to as the custodial parent. The parent that does not have physical custody of the child is the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may be able to get visitation with their child.
If the judge deems it proper, the judge can give the non-custodial parent visitation rights to see their child. The type of visitation a non-custodial parent gets depends on the situation.
Visitation can be supervised or unsupervised. When a parent’s visitation is supervised, time spent with their child cannot occur without supervision at a previously approved location. A suitable supervisor may include a family member or social worker. Visitation may occur at a previously approved location or a supervised visitation center.
When visitation is unsupervised, the non-custodial parent is free to plan visits with their child, usually around a schedule. Visitation can range from several hours to overnight visits.
Visitation is a privilege, not an inherent right. If a judge feels it is best to keep a child away from a parent, they will decide as they see fit.
How Is Child Custody Determined?
A child’s custody arrangement can have a significant impact on their lives and upbringing. Therefore, judges do not make these decisions lightly.
A family judge will look at several factors to help decide what the best custody arrangement would be. These factors include:
- The child’s age and gender
- The child’s health
- The relationship the child has with both parents
- Each parent’s parenting skills
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The parents’ employment responsibilities
- The parents’ moral fitness
- Stability in the home
- Each parent’s ability to provide for their child.
In some cases, if a child is 12 or older, a judge may also consider the child’s wants and needs when determining what is best for them.
Family court judges will always do what is in the best interests of the child.
How to Get Child Custody in Brookhaven
Usually, child custody is dealt with during divorce proceedings. If you are in the middle of a divorce, child custody is one of the most important, and required, topics to tackle.
However, there may be certain instances where child custody will be its own separate issue without divorce — for example, in the case of unmarried parents.
If you wish to begin working on your child custody case, you will start by filing a petition with the court. After filing your petition, you will then serve the other parent, giving them notice of your intention to involve the court in your child custody dispute.
Before you can go before a judge, Mississippi requires mediation. During mediation, a neutral third party works with you and your child’s other parent to handle your differences and come to an agreement.
If you are unable to resolve all of your issues during mediation, you can then go to court. A judge hears each side’s arguments to make the best possible decision for you and your children.
Modifying Child Custody
At some point, a parent may be interested in modifying the original child custody order. The petitioning party must show a change in circumstance that warrants a change in child custody to continue serving the best interests of the child.
For example, if one parent’s job has them moving across the country, this would be a sufficient change in circumstance, allowing for a possible modification to the child custody order.
To modify child custody in Brookhaven, you must file a petition with the court. The judge will consider the details surrounding the circumstances and consider what is best for the child before making a final decision.
Brookhaven Child Custody FAQs
It is not uncommon to have many questions when dealing with a child custody case. The answers to these frequently asked questions may be helpful when attempting to understand the child custody process.
Will my child ever need to appear in court?
Does my child’s opinion matter when deciding on child custody?
If both parents have joint custody, does anyone pay child support?
What is the typical child custody schedule?
Do I need a child custody lawyer?
Consult with Brookhaven Child Custody Attorneys
If you’re facing a child custody battle, you are not alone. A Brookhaven child custody lawyer has the skill and experience to provide competent representation to reach the most favorable outcome for everyone involved.
At Ringer, Lingold & Spencer, our attorneys have a combined 73 years of experience fighting for clients and their rights. We have a client-first approach, making our clients and their needs our top priority. Our attorneys are always ready to put their best foot forward, doing whatever is necessary to pursue the best outcome.
Contact us today at (601) 845-5050 to request a consultation, and let’s begin working on your case.