As the most precious and important product of a marriage or relationship, issues regarding child custody and visitation can be the most difficult to settle when the relationship ends. Difficulties may also arise when one parent wishes to move away from the other. If you are grappling with child custody and visitation issues, you need high quality legal representation to help you. At V. Freitas Law, we are sensitive to the delicate nature of these issues, yet skilled and tough when dealing with them on behalf of our clients.
Many parents stay in a marriage or relationship longer than they want to out of fear of losing their children. The other parent may be threatening to take the children away from you if you seek a divorce or leave the relationship. Do not be intimated by what are often empty threats. It is critical to seek the advice of counsel when child custody will be contested. When parents want to separate, they either need to agree on which parent will stay in the home and where the children will reside, or the court will make those decisions for them.
A temporary orders hearing can be scheduled within 14 days of filing a petition for dissolution or petition to establish a parenting plan for non-married parents. At that hearing, the court will decide which parent will remain in the family home, order a residential schedule for the children, and order child support and spousal maintenance, if appropriate. If one parent provides more of the parenting, then that parent is often awarded the family home and primary custody of the children. If both parents are equally involved in parenting the children, and are able to communicate well with each other, the court may order a more equal residential schedule for the children.
Typically, it is not advisable to move from your family home and leave the children with the other parent if child custody and visitation are contested. The court must consider the “status quo” when deciding which parent the children should live with while a dissolution action is pending. If one parent has already left the home and the other parent has been caring for the children the majority of the time, then it is easier for the court to simply allow things to remain as they are.
If you never lived with the other parent, but would like to establish a schedule for visitation for yourself, or the father, then you may file a Petition to Establish a Parenting Plan. Once paternity has been established, non-married parents can seek the assistance of the court, just like divorcing parents, to establish a set visitation schedule for their children.