Parents who are separating will have to arrange where their children will live and how much time they will spend with each parent (access), and who will making major decisions about the children's upbringing (custody). All together, these arrangement are called parenting plans.
When parents cannot agree about these things, a judge may have to decide what arrangement would be in the child's best interests. At Rogers Law Firm, we encourage parents to think about the best interest of their child and how separation is affecting them.
Custody and access is an often confusing and emotionally stressful aspect of divorce or separation. As a starting point, the terminology requires definition. Custody does not refer to where a child resides; rather, it describes who has decision-making authority with regard to the child.
As a result, the term "joint custody" does not refer to equal time spent at each parent's house. It refers to joint decision-making. It is also possible for one parent to have sole custody — which means sole decision-making authority — while the child splits his or her time between each parent's house. Custody and access arrangements, therefore, are flexible and can vary widely from family to family.
In recent years, many professionals in the field, including lawyers and judges, are moving away from the traditional labels of custody and access and using terms such as "decision making" and "children's residency schedule."