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Legal Services

  • Divorce/Spousal Support
  • Child Custody/Support
  • Domestic Violence/Restraining Orders
  • Premarital and post-marital contracts
  • Child Protective Services/Dependency
  • Guardianship
  • Adoptions
  • Paternity
  • Mediation
  • Integrated Mediation
  • Grandparent rights
  • Emancipation

Child Custody

Child custody is the legal and practical relationship between children and their parents. Custody is comprised of physical and legal custody, as well as, visitation.

Physical custody entails time with the children including where and with whom will the children be staying, which parent is in charge at which times, which parent will be in charge of activities, etc.

Physical custody can be:

  • Joint - children live with both parents. 
  • Sole or primary - the children primarily live with one parent and usually visit the other parent. 

Legal custody involves decisions about the children such as determining what decisions can be made without the consent of the other parent and what decisions must be made by both parents together. Legal custody can range many subjects including health care, education, religion, among others.

Legal custody can be:

  • Joint - both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.
  • Sole - only one parent has the responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children.

Visitation is the plan for how parents will spend time with the children. There are three types of visitation orders: visitation, supervised visitation, no visitation.

  • Visitation: the parent who does not have physical custody of the children for more than 50% of the time has visitation with the children.
  • Supervised Visitation: occurs when the children's safety and well-being require that visits with the other parent be supervised.
  • No Visitation: occurs in situations when visiting with the parent, even with supervision, would be physically or emotionally harmful to the children.

What is “the best interest of the child”?

The court must consider what is the best interest of the child in order to make their decisions about custody and visitation.  To decide what is best for a child, the court will consider:

  • The age of the child,
  • The health of the child,
  • The emotional ties between the parents and the child,
  • The ability of the parents to care for the child,
  • The history of family violence and/or substance abuse, and
  • The child’s ties to school, home, and his or her community.