Managing Child Custody
Resolving issues vital to your child’s future
Child custody is one of the most difficult issues a parent faces during divorce. The attorneys at Jeffrey Thomas Massaro, Counsellor-at-Law are dedicated to protecting your rights to raise your child in a healthy and thriving environment. Drawing on many years of experience, we represent parents in all aspects of child custody and visitation, including:
- Primary and joint custody arrangements
- Visitation rights
- Grandparent visitation
- Modification of custody and visitation orders
- Enforcement of orders
- Juvenile delinquency and dependency proceedings
- Decisions related to religion, education and upbringing of the child
Jeffrey Thomas Massaro, Counsellor-at-Law is committed to helping you maintain a meaningful relationship with the child you love.
Parenting Time Arrangements
Whereas "legal" custody of your child contemplates the decision-making concerns of your child, "physical" custody contemplates which parent has "possession" of the child and when. Two fairly standard varieties of physical custody are sole physical custody and shared physical custody. Under a sole physical custody arrangement, one parent has custody of the child for the majority of the time, with the other parent maintaining only limited visitation rights. For such situations where sole physical custody is in the best interest of the child, visitation with the other parent may be prohibited, very limited, or permitted only while under supervision. In such instances, the deprived parent may seek to gain increased visitation rights after completing what is termed "reunification therapy."
Typical of a shared physical custody agreement is where one parent is designated the parent of primary residence [PPR] with the other parent being the parent of alternate residence [PAR.] Under such an agreement, the PPR usually receives a majority of the custody time with the child; however, the PAR may have nearly equal parenting time. Often, the PAR maintains every-other-weekend visitation, along with a weekday or two during the week. In making such determinations, factors including the age of the child and the school's location and proximity to the parents' residences come into play, to ensure that the child is not being burdened by the parenting time agreement.
Legal custody arrangements
As stated above, legal custody concerns the required decision-making for the benefit of the child. Most often, joint legal custody is applied when both parents are willing and able to make decisions that pertain to their child's education, health and general well-being. Under a joint legal custody arrangement, the PPR will typically make the minor decisions that concern the child's welfare. That being said, and for the benefit of the child, it is often good practice to include the PPR on some of the daily decision making so that the child feels that both parents are contributing to the upbringing, and to demonstrate that both parents have an influential voice in the child's future. Larger and more impactful decision-making is reserved for both parents, such as decisions regarding significant illness, religious upbringing, educational choices, and the like. Situations may arise where the parents cannot agree on a solution for a major decision. In such circumstances, a qualified and independent third-party is often referenced within a written custody agreement to "break the tie." The third-party may be a school guidance counselor (i.e.: for educational decisions such as to which schools the child should apply) or the child's pediatrician (i.e.: for medical decisions such as treatment options.)
In the rarer circumstance of sole legal custody, the PPR makes all of the decisions regarding day-to-day occurrences, as well as major decisions. Sole legal custody is typically utilized when one of the parents is deemed to be unfit to raise the child or is an absentee parent.
Reliable counsel provides advantages in mediation
Children are best served when parents maintain a cordial relationship. Through the structured process of mediation, couples can often set aside hostility and agree on key decisions affecting their children, such as parenting time. Parenting Time Mediation can be a highly-effective tool for parents to preserve their children’s well-being and the stability of their lives during the turbulent process of divorce. Mediation takes some of the stress out of child custody conflicts and puts important child-rearing decisions in the hands of the parents rather than the court.
Skilled litigation in family court
In some cases, litigation is necessary to protect a child’s best interests. When one parent refuses to compromise or expresses hostility toward the other parent, negotiations fail. Sometimes a parent may even pose a danger to the child’s well-being. In these cases, litigation is the most appropriate forum for establishing parental rights. Our firm’s methodical approach to litigation enables you to feel confident that your children are protected and your parental rights are secure.
Contact experienced and reputable family law attorneys
Call Jeffrey Thomas Massaro, Counsellor-at-Law at 201-880-8989 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.