Child Custody, Parenting Plans, and Paternity Actions

Child Custody

Did you know that there are two different types of child custody? A parent with legal custody has the primary decision-making responsibility of the children and the legal authority to make major decisions on behalf of the children, while a parent with physical custody live with the children majority of the time or has more parenting time. With either of these types, one parent can have sole legal custody (one parent making majority of the decisions), sole physical custody (children are living with this parent majority of the time) or both parent can have joint legal and physical custody (when both parents share approximately equal responsibility for decision-making and approximately equal parenting time).

In many cases, if one parent has sole legal custody, that same parent also has sole physical custody. Some of the decisions that a parent with legal custody would make are the child or children’s school, religion, non-emergency medical care, and extracurricular activities. In some areas, the court can order a parenting coordinator in situations where parents have a difficult time agreeing on a decision involving children.

Parenting Plans

Parenting time is the time that the children spend with each parent. It is also known as visitation. There are different types of parenting time, which are described as:

  1. Unsupervised, when non-custodial parent visits children how and where they choose;

  2. Supervised, which occurs when a second responsible adult or supervisor are present for the duration of the visit. This person is usually a social worker or a court-appointed official. Supervised visits are most common in situations where unsupervised time risks the children’s emotional and physical development becoming impaired; and

  3. Virtual visitation, which is when a parent sees and communicates with the children by use of virtual technology, such as video chatting, instant messaging, and email. This typically occurs when the two parents live a great distance away from one another.

It is essential to remember that the decisions made regarding the children should be done so with their best interest in mind.

Parent planning is creating a schedule for the child or children to spend time with each parent or guardian. It is to help parents with arranging regular visitation, or parenting time. Parenting plans are required in divorce cases and often required in other cases in which child custody or visitation is at issue. These parenting plans are likely to discuss decisions such as:

Child custody and details of parenting time (such as the schedule, exchange locations and transportation); which party would have the decision-making responsibility (joint or sole); dispute resolution methods (some