The dissolution of marriage is a legal as well as emotional process that deeply affects the lives of those inside and outside the marital relationship. These effects are often compounded when a couple has to share custody of their children. Although every divorce is different, the following information provides some general guidelines for determining custody.
Establishing a childcare agreement
Custody agreements are detailed plans on issues such as parental leave (visit) and financial assistance. Divorced parents can choose one of two options when trying to reach an agreement:
You and your spouse can negotiate terms of custody and submit a parenting plan to the court for approval. Under Kansas law, a court will consider a custody agreement made by both parents to be in the best interests of the child, although the child may decide otherwise. Such an arrangement is quicker, cheaper, and less painful than the second option, and the advice of a lawyer can help you have a productive and relevant conversation.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody terms, the court will come to an agreement for you or otherwise instruct you to work towards an agreement in mediation. A family law attorney can help you state your views as you determine what you think is in your children’s best interests.
Legal custody vs. physical custody
Kansas has legal custody and parental leave, which people often refer to as physical custody. Custody of a child means which parent has decision-making rights over that child. For example, parties who share joint custody of a child must coordinate decisions about the child’s health, welfare, education and religious upbringing. These are all decisions that must be made jointly by both parties. The exception to joint custody is when an emergency occurs under the care and control of a parent. For example, if a child breaks their leg under the care and control of a parent, that parent is free to take the child to hospital without first calling the other parent for permission. The idea is that once an emergency subsides, the parent who took the child to the hospital should let the other parent know what is going on as soon as possible. The second type of custody includes physical custody of the child, commonly known as parental leave in the state of Kansas. This is what people usually think of when they think of custody, but the right term is parental leave. Parental leave determines where the child spends each week and for how long. Parties are encouraged to develop parenting plans that work for their families. How much time you will be spending with your child will depend on a variety of factors including your work hours, fitness as a parent, whether you have been the child’s historical caregiver, the child’s age, and more.
Factors That Are Considered In Determining Custody
From the court’s point of view, the basis of any custody agreement is the best interests of the child and not the interests of the parents. Weighted factors include: a parent’s willingness to foster a relationship with the other parent, the child’s adaptation to home, school and community, and any signs of abuse. The court will take into account the wishes of the parents and the child when the child is old and mature enough to express a preferred place of residence.
Changing an existing custody agreement
Children’s needs and parents’ living conditions change over time. In this case, a parent can ask the court to review an existing custody agreement. If a parent demonstrates a material change in circumstances that affects the child’s best interests, the court may change the agreement. In addition, if one parent has inappropriately refused to visit the other parent, the court may consider this to be a material change in circumstances.
If you have any questions about a future or existing custody agreement, call Roth Davies, LLC for an initial consultation with our experienced family law attorney at (913) 451-9500. to agree