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Child Custody Advice for the Recently Divorced

For a newly divorced mother or father, child custody can be a difficult and painful issue. There is a lot to consider, and some child custody advice can ease the transition into your new life and help you do the best for your child.

The Responsibilities of a Custodial Parent

If you have sole or joint custody of your child, you are responsible for meeting your childs needs when the child is with you. You must provide the right education, clothing, food, and housing for your child.

You now have additional responsibilities to your child and to your former spouse. The court looks at the best interest of your child when giving custody to a parent or to both parents. The best child custody advice after a divorce is right there: Always look after your childs well being. It is very important to provide your child with a stable and healthy environment after the difficulties of a divorce.

Your former spouse may be an important part of your childs life. If you share legal custody, you need to make the important decisions for your child together with your former spouse.

In the divorce, visitation rights may have been given to your former spouse. You must let the child see or stay with your former spouse on the days and times in the order. The order is legally enforceable. If you fail to follow the order, it can be a reason for the court to change or take away your custody rights.

You and your former spouse may have bad feelings toward each other. It is important for your childs well being and for your custody to keep your relationship civil. A child needs to see his or her parents at their best, and an angry or bitter former spouse can seek to modify the custody arrangements at any time. Even if the reasons are not good, going to court again would be difficult for you and confusing for your child.

The Rights of a Custodial Parent

Your former spouse may be required to pay child support. Its important that the support is received on time and in full. If the payments are late or stop coming, the court can help. You or your child custody lawyer can ask the court to enforce your child support order in a variety of ways.

The court may always modify child custody and support orders. You may find yourself unable to support your child, or other circumstances may change in your life. If so, you may need to ask the court to modify your custody or support. You must show the court why you need to change your custody arrangements, and you should talk to your former spouse before any changes are suggested. You and your former spouse cannot simply decide to change your custody or support arrangements, even if you both agree. The court must change the order.

Child Custody Advice to the Non-Custodial Parent

Divorce can be even more difficult if your child no longer lives with you. Your time with your child may be very limited. There are new rules and obligations. It is very important that you know your rights and responsibilities as the non-custodial parent.

Usually, custody and support orders are part of your divorce decree. They may include something called a parenting plan or visitation schedule. The orders will tell you:

  • How much child support you need to pay
  • The days and times, including holidays, your child will spend with you
  • How your child can contact you when staying with your former spouse
  • How you will participate in the childrens' school and extra-curricular activities
  • Your access to school and medical records
  • Who handles transportation for the children, especially if you and your former spouse live far apart

Many of these are your rights as the non-custodial parent. You may ask the court to enforce any of these rights if your former spouse, or any other person, interferes.