When a divorcing couple has children, the matter of child custody is often the most important and most contentious aspect of the marriage dissolution process. Fortunately, The Schechter Law Firm, P.C., is an experienced litigation firm, and our family law attorneys utilize their trial experience to make sure our client’s interests are well-represented in any decision regarding custody, visitation, and a subsequent parenting plan. There are several different types of custody to be considered and many different ways in which the judge can order custody. It is important to have an attorney who understands all of the factors and consequences that go into making the final determination.
The court decides two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility of each parent to make decisions regarding the child’s health, education, and welfare. Physical custody, on the other hand, refers to the actual time that the child resides with either parent and is under that parent’s care and supervision.
The court may award joint custody, where custody is shared by the parents in some fashion, or award sole (primary) custody to one parent alone. The court may grant any combination of custody, such as joint physical custody with sole legal custody, or joint legal custody with sole physical custody.
The policy of the state favors ongoing, meaningful contact between the child and each parent, as well as shared parental decision-making, but the overall concern of the court is what is in the best interests of the child. In making this determination with regard to physical custody, the court looks at a variety of factors, including the wishes of the parents, the wishes of the child, and the child’s adjustment to home, school and community. Other factors include the physical and mental health of all the parties involved, whether either parent plans to move the child’s principal residence, and which parent is more likely to allow the child to have frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with the other parent. In making a determination with regard to legal custody, the court looks at whether the parties can communicate adequately and whether they see eye-to-eye regarding decisions relating to the children.
Our role in this process is to prepare and present our client’s custody case in a manner that convincingly represents our client’s interests as fully aligned with the best interests of the children. Our diligent preparation is an effective approach to reaching a negotiated agreement or settlement outside of court wherever possible. But when custody is contested and litigation is necessary, our trial skills and experience will be put to use to win a favorable ruling that fully and fairly represents your needs and desires regarding the custody of your children. For strong and effective assistance with a child custody matter in the St. Louis metropolitan area, contact The Schechter Law Firm, P.C.