Are you the legal parent of one or more minor children? If so, how do you manage child custody and visitation rights when separated from your partner? 

What is child custody? states that child custody is a legal term “regarding guardianship which is used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent or guardian and a child in that person’s care.” 

When parents are married or in a legal partnership, they share joint legal and physical custody of the minor children, And, they are jointly responsible for the “right and duty to house, provide and care” for the minor children.

The change in arrangements when the parents are separated 

Therefore, the question that begs is how these arrangements change when the parents are separated. For the sake of both parents and the children, it’s essential to delineate these arrangements. Even if the separation is amicable, verbal agreements can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings, especially during the stressful events linked to the current global pandemic. 

Consequently, at this juncture, it is vital to note that it is best to consult with a Toledo family lawyer when seeking to formalize the new custody and visitation arrangements. 

And, by way of answering this question, let’s consider the following points:

Custody across state lines 

The custody arrangements become slightly more complex when parents live in separate states. The obvious solution is for each parent to file for custody in the state that they live. However, this is not a legal option. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) states that a parent can only file for custody in a child’s home state. 

What is the definition of a child’s home state? 

Fortunately, the UCCJEA defines a child’s home state as being the place where the child has resided for at least six months. Therefore, if the child lived in New York for ten years and has just moved to Washington state, all custody arrangements need to be heard in New York State, even if neither of the parents lives in New York. 

And, typically when the parents live a fair distance from each other, one of the parents will be granted primary custody during the school year, and the other parent will receive lengthy visitation rights over the long holidays, especially the summer.

Custody rights when parents live close to each other 

Parents are generally granted joint custody when the parents live in the same city or reasonably close to one another.

 There are two types of custody: joint and physical custody. And, there are three practical options: 

  • Joint custody can be joint legal custody where both parents share the decision-making responsibilities for the children. 
  • Additionally, joint custody can mean joint physical custody, where the children spend 50% of their time with each parent. 
  • And finally, joint custody can be interpreted as joint legal and physical custody, where both parents share every aspect of the children’s lives, including visitation rights and decision-making processes.

Final thoughts 

It is clear from the above that custody arrangements are fairly complex to work out. And, they can sometimes result in animosity between the parents. However, it is vital for the children’s sake that both parents put their emotions aside and work these arrangements out to the benefit of the children.