Common Arrangements for Child Custody and Child Visitation

When two parents separate, child visitation is often the key issue. In every state, parents are urged to create a parenting plan either on their own or with the help of a mediator or collaborative divorce coach. The court will get involved and litigate the issue, but usually only if there are extenuating circumstances (i.e., domestic violence, drugs, abuse) or if the parents are unable to establish a custody or child visitation agreement on their own.

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What if both parents agree on child custody and visitation arrangements?

When separating parents do get along and can agree to a reasonable custody or visitation schedule for their child(ren), the court is generally going to be responsive in formalizing that agreement (i.e., parenting plan) and making it legal. If there is a substantial or significant change in circumstances since the original custody or visitation orders, courts again urge the disputing parents to resolve the differences, without the need for the court to modify the original order of custody or visitation.

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What is child custody?

Child custody refers to guardianship of a child. This may refer to physical custody, wherein you have the right to have the child physically under your care. It may also refer to legal custody, where you have the right to make decisions for a child but do not actually have the child living with you.

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Getting Your First Child Custody Order

The first child custody order in many paternity and divorce suits is actually a temporary order. Despite being a temporary order, this preliminary custody order can have an impact on future custody decisions.

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What is a custodial parent?

The terms custodial parent and non-custodial parent are used in instances where two parents of a child have broken up and are no longer living together. Under a custody arrangement, one parent may receive custody of the child; the child lives with that parent. That parent is the custodial parent. The other parent, who may have visitation rights depending on the circumstances, is referred to as the non-custodial parent.

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We’ve compiled several links and resources that provide general child custody information and legal advice. Issues like child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, visitation agreements, non-custodial parental rights, and more resources are listed below. If you need more information about child custody laws, use our free legal help tool below.