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Deciding who will have legal custody of a child is one of the most challenging decisions you may ever have to make. But, if you are looking for answers about child custody, you’ve come to the right place. At Duluth Family Lawyer, we understand the confusion and uncertainty that can come with this process, which is why we have compiled a comprehensive FAQ about child custody. In this blog post, we will answer the top 8 questions about child custody so you can make informed decisions about your family’s future.

1. What Is Legal Custody?

Legal custody of a child refers to the right and responsibility of making decisions about their wellbeing, such as what school they will attend, what doctor they will see, or how they should handle any legal issues that may arise. Generally, both parents have legal custody, but there are cases in which one parent may be awarded sole legal custody. Legal custody gives a parent the authority to make decisions on behalf of their child until they reach the age of majority. The court may also award joint legal custody if both parents agree on it and if it is in the child’s best interest. 

2. How Do Courts Decide Who Gets Physical Custody?

When determining physical custody, courts usually consider many factors, such as each parent’s ability to provide a good home environment, access to extended family members, work schedules, and proximity to other important people in the child’s life. The court must also consider the child’s overall best interest when deciding physical custody. 

3. Is Joint Physical Custody Always an Option?

Joint physical custody isn’t always an option; it depends on each situation’s unique circumstances. The court must consider several factors when deciding whether joint physical custody would work for a particular case, including whether both parents can communicate effectively, cooperate with each other, and act in the child’s best interests. Depending on the situation’s complexity, achieving shared physical custody may not be possible. It is not uncommon for the court to award primary physical custody to one parent while allowing limited visitation rights to the other parent. 

4. Can Grandparents Have Custody Rights?

Grandparents can have custody rights depending on state laws and the family’s situation. Some states allow grandparents to petition for legal guardianship or visitation rights when certain conditions are met. 

5. Are There Different Types of Child Custody Orders?

Different child custody orders depend on the child’s needs and the family dynamic. Sole legal and physical custody grants exclusive rights and responsibilities over the child to one parent, while shared legal or physical custody allows both parents to share these rights and responsibilities jointly. 

6. Can I Modify My Child Custody Order?

In some cases, yes. Depending on state law and the specific facts of your case, you may be able to file a motion to modify your child custody order. You must show that there has been a significant change in circumstance since the last court order, such as an increased financial burden or a new job offer that requires you to relocate, before the court considers modifying your child custody arrangement. When filing a motion to modify child custody, you should consult an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and help protect your rights. 

7. How Long Does It Take for a Modification Request to Go Through?

The amount of time needed for a modification request to go through varies based on the case’s complexity and the court’s workload. Generally, the time can range from weeks to months, depending on the specific situation. 

8. Who Makes Medical Decisions for Children during a Divorce?

Generally, medical decisions are made by the parent who has been granted legal custody of the child. In most cases, only one parent can make medical decisions unless they have explicitly agreed upon joint decision-making in their parenting plan. However, courts may grant either joint or sole medical decision-making authority if they believe it’s in the child’s best interests. 

Final Thoughts

The answers to these FAQs provide helpful guidance, but every child custody situation is unique. No two families are alike, so it’s essential to understand all the laws and regulations that apply to your specific circumstances. An experienced family law attorney can provide advice tailored to your individual needs and protect your legal rights. Contact Duluth Family Lawyer for more information regarding any additional questions you may have about child custody. We can explain relevant laws and regulations in detail, assist you in filing the necessary paperwork, and provide support during negotiations and any other interactions with third parties involved in your case. Call us today for more information or to schedule a consultation!

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