If you are a parent going through the divorce process, figuring out what life with your children will look like after the fact can be a challenge. You’d think putting together a child custody plan would be fairly simple, but if you and your ex both have different ideas about what it should look like, it may prove more challenging than expected.
Before you can create a child custody plan, you need to know what your custody options are. For parents in Alaska, there are four custody arrangements you need to know about: physical, legal, sole and joint. What is the difference between them?
Physical and legal custody
Physical custody involves determining with whom the children will reside. Legal custody, on the other hand, has to do with which parent gets to make important decisions regarding their children’s upbringing. Such decisions might include:
- Religious affiliation
- Medical treatment
The list goes on, but the point is, there are a lot of decisions parents may want to be involved in as they raise their children. Without being granted legal custody, you may not get that opportunity.
Sole custody versus joint
Sole custody is where only one parent receives custody of the children — physical, legal or both. If one parent receives sole custody, the other might receive visitation time but not much more than that.
Joint custody is where both parents receive custody — physical, legal or both. If joint custody is awarded, children will spend roughly equal time living with each parent. What your custody plan ultimately looks like depends on your family’s specific needs.
What serves the best interests of your children?
Most parents are able to work out custody arrangements that they feel best serve their family. If, however, parents cannot agree, the courts may get to weigh in on the matter. If that happens, a judge will look at what custody options will serve the best interests of your children by looking at various factors, such as:
- Parent-child relationship
- Available living arrangements
- History of physical abuse
- History of drug or alcohol abuse
- Child’s specific needs
This list, too, can go on.
Fight for what you believe is best for your children
Achieving a child custody order that you believe is best for your children may not be easy. However, it is still worth fighting for the custody arrangement you think is best. Thankfully, you can have help doing so.