Joint Custody And Visitation Woes
When parents divorce, they must come up with a plan to deal with child custody that pertains to all children under the age of 18 (or older if in college). If the parents cannot decide about custody, the judge will. Once the divorce is done and ordered, one of the orders deals with who has primary custody of the child and who has visitation privileges. With joint custody being a popular choice, read on to find out more about how visitation issues should be treated.
What Is Joint Custody?
While the name may make many think that both parents share physical custody of the child, only one parent is ordered to take full physical custody. The word joint is more about legal custody. It seems confusing, but legal custody is usually shared by both parents and then physical custody is assigned to one parent. Legal custody gives both parents legal rights when it comes to making major decisions about the health and welfare of the minor child. The non-custodial parent has visitation rights (in most cases) and usually pays child support.
Unfortunately, problems can occur when parents who were unable to be married to each other try to parent a child, regardless of their good intentions. Here are a few common issues you might encounter with joint custody and visitation.
Child support problems – The non-custodial parent usually must pay to support the child. As time goes on, however, problems can crop up. The parent may have lost their job, become too ill to work, or encountered other financial difficulties with paying what is owed. As the custodial parent, you have every right to expect payment and you should take action with the support enforcement agency in your area. What you cannot do, however, is to deny your spouse visitation for that reason. Doing so might cause you legal problems that you had not anticipated.
New relationships – It's only natural that parents get involved in new relationships (or become more open about previously hidden ones) after a divorce. Unfortunately, when you have a visitation schedule to abide by personalities can clash. Just because you don't like or approve of your spouse's new relationship is not a good enough reason to deny your spouse their visitation. If you suspect criminal, drug abuse, or another wrongdoing, speak to your local divorce attorney about a visitation hearing.
Speak to your attorney to learn more about joint custody and visitation.