Visitation Rights Lawyers in Austin
Divorce can be a tedious and painful process, and when children are involved, it is an even more serious matter. Establishing child custody and visitation rights is required. These decisions are always based on the best interests of the child. Those interests, while not clearly defined, usually follow a general list of guidelines. Some of the factors affecting custody and visitation decisions are which parent the child is closer to, the child’s education, the parent’s stability and health and which environment is better for the child. The age of the child also may factor into custody and visitation decisions. It is important to note that the parents’ lifestyles affect the final parenting plan. However, the ruling of the court is never in the parents’ best interest; on the contrary, it is always in favor of the child’s best interests.
Custody and Visitation Rights
The two subdivisions of custody are legal custody and physical custody. A parent who is given legal custody has the authority to make all the major decisions of the child’s life, including medical and educational choices. A parent who is given physical custody lives with the child and is the child’s caregiver from day to day. Sometimes, one parent is given sole custody; total rights of both legal and physical custody. When parents share custody, a practice called joint custody, they are equally involved in both the major decisions and the daily life of the child.
This is important because the parent that does not have physical custody of the child generally receives visitation rights. This means that the parent has set times when the child can come and visit the parent, or vice versa. A child may even be permitted to spend the night or weekends with a parent. However, the guidelines for the visits must be clearly spelled out, and the child may not under any circumstances move in with the parent unless the visitation laws are modified. While visitation laws may be changed, it is generally a long and time-consuming process. The court is not hasty in making changes and must see an objective reason for why the change is desired. In some situations, such as if a parent moves a considerable distance away or is harming the child, the court may not be as reluctant to alter the rights.
Coming up With a Parenting Plan
The parents may come up with their own parenting plan if they are willing and able to work together to accomplish the goal. If not, they may need to hire a mediator to assist them. Professional mediators are not allowed to show any bias toward one of the parents; instead, they help the parents talk through the situation and decide which parent (or both, in some cases) should have custody of the child and which should have visitation rights. Coming up with a parenting plan during a divorce adds another level of stress to the already tense situation. It is important to be thoughtful and careful when developing a parenting plan because its effects are far-reaching and significant. In addition, should the parents ever seek to modify the orders, it generally takes a long time to finalize those changes.