Getting an uncontested divorce means reducing much of the emotional and financial stress that normally accompanies a divorce. Typically couples are able to work out the difficult areas of separation themselves, but one area that prolongs their involvement with each other is the issue of child custody. With an uncontested divorce, couples have to make decisions on a few issues, including legal custody (who makes the decisions for the child), physical custody (where the child will live), the custody schedule, visitation rights, and child support payments. If they can agree on these issues, then it makes moving forward with the uncontested divorce much easier.
Physical custody arrangements
The basic definition of physical custody is the responsibility you bear when it comes to housing and the care that you offer to your child as the custodial parent. Physical custody can take two forms: sole and joint custody. With sole custody, the child lives with one parent, while the other parent maintains some parenting time. With joint physical custody the duty of care for the child is divided equally between both parents, and the child lives with both parents for a substantial period of time.
Legal custody arrangements
With legal custody, the duty of care for issues like school registration and location, as well as things like medical treatment, are decided by a parent. Like physical custody, legal custody can be established either solely or jointly. Naturally, with sole custody, one parent takes on these major decisions on their own. With joint custody the parents work together to make these decisions.
When you should seek out a sole custody arrangement
Generally speaking, parents should seek out a sole custody arrangement if you both agree that it is in the best interest of the child, if one parent travels frequently for work or other reasons, if the parents live far apart and the child needs a primary residence, or if one of the parents has a history of neglect, abuse, or absence from the child’s life.
When you seek out a joint custody agreement
There are several states where courts prefer it if parents reach joint custody. Courts in these states will typically default to joint custody unless one of the parents can successfully make the case that sole custody is in the best interest of the child.
Note that joint custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time. The visitation agreement can make any number of appointments for custody times. Splitting time equally with the parents like doing one week with one parent and a week with the other can be one way and is sometimes called shared custody. Any way you agree, the judge needs to approve it so it is a good idea to consult with your local divorce attorney in Decatur, Alabama or where you live to ensure you have a fair custodial agreement before submitting it to the judge.
Visitation schedule options
When you design a visitation schedule, it can take on a number of different forms. Examples of custody visitation schedules can be
- Every weekend is spent with the noncustodial parent
- Every third weekend is spent with the noncustodial parent
- Every other weekend gets spent with the noncustodial parent
You can also add midweek or overnight visits if these will suit your needs and the child’s best interests.
Child support arrangements
In Alabama, courts have an income based model (the child support guidelines) that for the most part determines child support for you. At the same time, couples can make adjustments to the amounts that are paid out, within a reasonable limit. If the parties do not go by the guidelines, then a judge will have to approve the amount agreed to. If an agreement is not reached, then judges usually order the guidelines in most cases unless there are exceptions. A good divorce attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure that you understand the child support process.