Radcliff Child Custody Attorneys
Protecting the Parental Rights of Our Hardin County Clients
Divorce is stressful in and of itself. Separations become even more complex and stressful when children are involved, especially when you only what is best for them. Unfortunately, you and your former spouse may have different ideas about what that means. Contentious and devastating child custody disputes can result. Navigating these problems are rarely easy, especially when time with your children is on the line.
For the sake of your children, it is in your best interest to keep arguments over custody and parenting time from veering out of control – even when your former spouse is refusing to honor the terms of a court-ordered custody agreement. You do not have to face these conflicts alone: Our Radcliff child custody lawyers at Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples are ready to help you resolve these types of problems as efficiently, pragmatically, and painlessly as possible. We have been helping Radcliff clients resolve family disputes since 1982 and are ready to help you find a solution that works for everyone.
Physical Custody Versus Legal Custody
It is important to understand the distinction between physical custody and legal custody. Both matter in situations involving child custody but each carry differing responsibilities.
A parent with physical custody cares for the child on a daily basis. This means their obligations include making sure the child attends school, eats, bathes, and otherwise provides and manages a functional and healthy day-to-day living environment.
A parent with legal custody has the right to make more long-term and significant decisions for the child. This includes decisions about their healthcare, education, and religion.
In other words, a parent with legal custody decides how a child is raised, while one with physical custody carries out the raising of the child in a way that is consistent with those decisions. Courts will sometimes draw distinctions on who gets physical or legal custody, and disagreements often spark from decisions made as a legal custodian.
How Child Custody Is Decided in Kentucky
When you go through a divorce or legal separation in which you and your partner have one or more children, a legal determination will need to be made about who has custody. In an ideal world, you and your partner will agree on what is best for your child – often some form of joint custody – and present the plan to the court for approval.
Many times, parents will disagree over what their children’s future should look like. This will result in a contested hearing where parents will argue why their plan better meets the needs of the child. Parents might call witnesses, provide evidence, or testify themselves to help build their case.
Because the court is looking out for the best interests of the child, they will often ask children for their opinion on custody, especially if they are older. They will also examine other relevant factors, including potential disruptions to the child’s life and education that certain custody decisions might confer.
Kentucky judges making these decisions often prefer to give both parents access to the child, resulting in frequent rulings of joint custody. This typically means both parents have some level of legal custody over the child and must consult each other when making major life decisions. The child will then live with both parents, though they might stay with one parent more than the other. Physical custody is passed between whoever has immediate care of the child.
In other cases, a court might order sole custody, meaning only one parent gets physical and legal custody of the child. Unless there are specific disqualifying circumstances that pose a threat to the child, the parent not awarded custody is still entitled to visitation rights.
Visitation Issues with Sole Custody in Kentucky
When making a decision on custody, a court will also order visitation rights. In cases of sole custody, this encompasses time in which the parent without custody is allowed to see and spend time with their child.
Because visitation rights are court-ordered, the sole custodian must permit the other parent to see their child, no matter how antagonistic the relationship. Refusing to honor visitation rights can lead to contempt of court proceedings. Generally, you cannot limit or restrict how the visiting parent spends their time with the child, unless the court specifically says otherwise.
The court also may order one parent to pay child support, even if they are not the sole custodian. Failure to pay child support can create numerous problems for the offender, but visitation rights still cannot be denied.
If you are the sole custodian of a child and your ex-partner is behind on child support payments, you still must follow the court-ordered visitation schedule. You can separately file a motion to hold them in contempt of court and attempt to collect on delinquent support, but denying visitation is its own violation of the law that can open you to legal penalties.
Visitation Problems with Joint Custody in Kentucky
Issues with visitation can still develop where both parents have some level of custody. When assigned joint custody, the court will define the role of each parent and how often the child will stay with each.
In these situations, both parents often have joint legal custody, meaning they must consult one another when making major decisions that impact their child. Problems can develop if parents cannot come to agreement on one of these decisions, such as how a child will be culturally raised or where they will go to school. Sometimes, a parent might even unilaterally make a major decision despite objections from or a lack of consultation with the other parent.
These conflicts can intensify if a parent refuses to relinquish the child when it is time for them to stay with the other parent. Failure to honor the legal or physical obligations of a joint custody agreement represents a breach of the underlying court order. Even more importantly, it can be traumatic for the child caught in the middle.
We Can Help You with Custody and Visitation
Custody conflicts should be resolved as amenably and quickly as possible to limit harm to the child. Our Radcliff child custody attorneys at Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples have substantial experience helping Kentucky families navigate these arguments and find mutually agreeable solutions. If your former partner is refusing to honor visitation rights or other terms of your custody agreement, our team can help you navigate the relevant court proceedings involved with challenging the offenses and pursuing conflict resolution. Our firm treats our clients like family, and we are invested in the long-term wellbeing of you and your children.
Our law firm provides a full range of legal services to help you and your family achieve your goals. We speak your language. We are here to help you understand your legal options, what to expect and what steps we can take to protect you.
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