Children should – and do – take precedence in any dissolution case.
When custody is involved, other issues generally take a backseat until the
parties can figure out how their kids are going to be cared for. In my opinion,
judges often take a similar approach.
While each case is different, there are a few constants:
parents want their children to be healthy and happy, and they generally want to
have as much parenting time as possible. In some cases, issues of custody
and visitation quickly and easily resolve. The parties discuss and implement
a parenting plan, and they decide to work together to restructure their
family dynamic in a way that makes sense. In others, issues of time-share
and decision-making present thorny issues that require court intervention.
In considering custody of your children, there are two important concepts
Legal Custody and Physical Custody.
When parties agree as to custody, that agreement can be memorialized and
submitted to the court. Once the court approves the agreement, the parenting
schedule becomes a binding court order. It can continuously be modified
by either party if there has been a substantial change of circumstance
(i.e., a parent moves, a child changes schools, etc.). It is not uncommon
for parties to make alterations to the custody schedule after their case
concludes, as facts and circumstances always change. These agreements
or adjustments to the schedule should always be memorialized and submitted
to the court.