The decisive issues in many divorces are child custody and physical placement. “Custody” refers to one or both of the parents’ legal rights and obligations to make major decisions for a minor child. “Physical placement” refers to the time (in other words the schedule) that the child spends with each parent.
When a divorce action is started, parents need guidance as to the schedule for the child while the divorce is pending. This schedule can be obtained one of two ways, either through an agreement, which is then approved by the Court, or by having a having a temporary hearing. The resulting document is called a Temporary Order. Other issues such as finances, possession of the home, etc., should be addressed on a temporary basis also.
If one or both of the parties do not like the temporary custody or physical placement order, they can request mediation. Mediation is a process whereby both parties meet with a neutral mediator in an attempt to resolve the issues involving the children. If the mediation is unsuccessful, a guardian ad litem will be appointed. A guardian ad litem is an attorney assigned by the Court to represent the children. The guardian ad litem will then conduct a custody study. Each guardian ad litem has their own process for performing the study. Some custody studies involve extensive personal interviews with character witnesses, teachers, and the like. Others involve character witnesses merely writing letters. Most guardian ad litems will want to meet with the children, depending upon the children’s age. After the custody study is performed, the guardian ad litem will give a recommendation as to what the placement schedule will be. This recommendation is presented to the Court. If the parties still cannot reach an agreement, the case is tried to the Judge, and the Judge will render an order. Once an order is issued, the court may not modify the initial custody decree for two years, unless it is shown that the current custodial conditions are physically or emotionally harmful to the child. Consequently, as it is hard to change an order once it is in place, it is important to get an appropriate order in the beginning,
If you are considering divorce or have a child or children with someone you are not married to, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice. Don’t trust your child’s future relationships to just anyone. Whether you consult with Bradley Kennedy, Jessica Tlusty, or Michael Dirks, you will receive quality legal representation for your particular situation.
For more information on custody, visit our frequently asked questions page, or make an appointment today by contacting us at 715-359-3188 or 1-800-662-5432 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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