Depending on your circumstances, this area of the law can be called several different things: custody, major decision making, access, contact, or parenting time. Each word has a different meaning, in legal terms. Most often people think about “custody and access” as which parent does the child live with, and which parent gets to see the child occasionally.
Custody and access are actually two distinct things. “Custody” refers to who makes the major decisions for the child. Major decisions can include medical treatment, education, and religion. If you want to make it a little more complicated, the term “custody” only exists in a divorce situation; if you were never married, we just refer to this as “major decision making”. There are two types of custody or decision making: sole and joint. Sole custody or decision making means one parent is primarily responsible for making the major decisions for the child. Joint custody or decision making means both parents equally participate in the major decision making.
When we look at access and parenting time, our goal is to work with parents to create a parenting plan that will reflect the unique needs and circumstances of the children and the family. This can mean that one parent has “primary care” and the other parent has “access”. It can also mean that the children spend time equally with each parent. What works for one family, doesn’t always work for another. Let us help you develop a detailed parenting plan that works for everyone, but most importantly, your children. It is important to note that the amount of time that your child spends with you and with the other parent is a factor in determining child support. This is an important consideration with serious and lasting impacts.
Children can also have “contact” with people who are not their guardians, but are still important people in their lives. Sometimes when parents are in significant dispute, this can have ramifications for the extended family. This can impact grandparents, aunts and uncles, among others. If you need help having contact with a child in your life, please contact us.
Contact us online or call us today at 587-943-1394 and we can help you work out a plan, or go over the agreement you’ve already reached, and help you understand what the result may be, in plain language.
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