Learn how a divorce affects the state of legal guardianship for minor children . Find out what steps you must take to be a guardian.
We’ve all heard it – 40 to 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Later marriages are more prone to an even higher failure rate.
Are you one of the many Americans going through a divorce? Do you wonder about child custody and legal guardianship? Do you know what to prepare for?
An amicable divorce is difficult, especially if you’re also a parent, but it’s possible. Right now, the best thing to do is to arm yourself with as much information as possible.
A workable parenting plan is the difference between miscommunication and calm coexistence. Here’s how to make one that works for both the parents and the children.
Understand Child Custody Laws
When two people who are also parents get divorced, it’s natural to feel nervous. Do you lose access to your children? Will you miss out on special moments? Will you be excluded from their lives?
The short answer is no.
When parents amicably divorce, child custody defines with whom the children physically reside. Both parents remain natural guardians. The major factor to decide residency is where the children have their best interests and welfare.
The primary caregiver becomes responsible for the children’s daily care. This includes everything from education to medical and emotional needs. But the other parent still has “right of access” to the children.
Of course, that’s the best-case scenario. Depending on circumstances, you may get a different result. This depends on how you and your spouse handle your divorce. Whether it’s contested or uncontested could affect your legal standing.
Types of Legal Child Custody
Let’s cover the different types of custody so you know exactly what can happen.
Sole Physical Custody
Physical custody, also known as residential custody, mainly determines where your children stay.
In sole physical custody, a child spends most of their time with one parent. The other parent’s visitation rights can get approved. It’s typical to have lenient and generous visitations, such as sleepovers and holidays.
Joint Physical Custody
This is one desired result when legal guardianship is addressed. In this situation, children spend about equal time with both parents. This 50/50 arrangement lets them see each parent often.
This legal status is also known as shared custody, shared parenting or dual residence.
Sole Legal Custody
The parent with sole legal custody can make and change all decisions about the children’s education, welfare, health, location and more.
The other parent still has visitation rights. But when it comes to legal decision-making, only the opinions of the parent with sole legal custody matter.
Joint Legal Custody
This is the best possible result. Joint legal custody is the most amicable arrangement. If it works, this can benefit children and both parents.
Both parents share the responsibility making major decisions. Each parent has input on school, religious upbringing, health and medical welfare. They also share visitation rights, with each spending time with the children equally.
Unsupervised vs. Supervised Visitation
Let’s also define supervised and unsupervised visitations.
In unsupervised visitations, the parent can take the children anywhere they usually would. They can go to their homes, to the park, to the museum and on trips. Although parents may set limitations on the visit, the visit itself remains unmonitored.
In supervised visitations, another “responsible adult” must be present during the visit. Sometimes the court lets the parents to decide who that supervisor is. It can be a family friend, grandparent or other family member. But it might also be a court-appointed social worker.
How to Prepare for Child Mediation
Child mediation programs are one way to help children and parents adjust to life after divorce. They can help everyone foster healthier relationships. Your willingness to make the situation work is beneficial to everyone, yourself included.
A mediator may help you and your ex-spouse to reach agreement about child custody. Here are some things to remember to be successful during a mediation session:
- Having someone to rely on (as opposed to being a single parent) can make parenting easier
- Although you may think little of your ex-spouse, they may still be a good parent
- Even if you don’t get sole custody, you can support your children
- Be ready to adjust to change – after all, everyone faces a major transition
- Leave your emotions at the door. Mediation should be about everyone, not just you
The only exemption to that last rule? If you focus on less than everyone, make sure it’s on the child, not you or your ex-partner.
Your divorce may not settle on good or easy terms, but it’s important to stay neutral for your children. If parents remain in conflict after a divorce, research shows it causes problems for your children. This can show up in things like school behavior or failed relationships.
Don’t Forget Your Role as Parent
Legal guardianship is difficult to consider. But you’re a parent – you made it this far. The best thing you can do is be calm, level-headed and compassionate to your children.
If you go through a hard divorce, we’re here to take some pressure off. Whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, we know how to help.
Call us today at (402) 415-2525 for a free initial consultation in the Omaha, NE area.