Since 2013 there have been over 30,000 divorces every year in the state of Pennsylvania. That’s around 24% of the annual number of marriages and civil partnerships.

Across America, almost 50% of children will experience their parents’ divorce. This is why child custody laws exist.

These laws ensure that children’s interests are always put first during the divorce process. This protects them and helps to make the process as smooth as possible. 

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce with kids, then you need to know what to expect from a custody battle. It isn’t a decision to take lightly. And it can get complicated.

Fortunately for you, we’re here to help. Read on to find out everything you need to know about divorce and child custody.

Why is Getting a Divorce with Kids Complicated? 

Getting divorced is a complicated process. It requires you and your ex-partner to go through every element of your life and divide it up. 

But deciding who gets custody of the children during a divorce is an almost impossible task. It far outweighs figuring out who gets to keep the house! The outcome of this decision will determine how much time you get to spend with your children. 

So understandably it’s often a very emotional process for everyone involved. And it’s easy for tempers to flare when the stakes are this high.

That’s why it’s important to have a good lawyer on your side to guide you through the child custody process. They will also be able to help you achieve the outcome you want.

The other important element to consider is what is best for your children. This might be separate from what you or your ex-partner want. In this case, impartial lawyers and judges help to find the best situation for your children.

How Does Custody Work in a Divorce? 

Once you know how to file for divorce with kids, you will enter into the divorce process. And discussions regarding child custody will begin. 

These don’t have to happen like they do in films. There doesn’t have to be screaming matches or one parent dressing up as the nanny to see their child! But it is likely that emotions will be running high. 

The smoothest child custody agreements are ones that the parents can agree on. This involves them drawing up a plan with their lawyers that both parents agree to.

There might be some back and forth before you reach the final solution, but this is the first step in resolving your child custody issues.

If you and your ex can’t come to an agreement, then a court will decide on the best arrangement. You and your lawyer will present your case for your desired arrangement. You need to support this with evidence to show it will work.

The judge will use this to inform their decision on the final custody agreement. Once this has been made it is hard to appeal and is legally binding. 

If you make a custody agreement that one of you fails to stick to this can lead to court involvement. 

Different Types of Child Custody

There are different types of child custody agreements. These are physical custody and legal custody. There are two kinds of each.

Sole physical custody means that one parent has full custody of the child. The child lives with them and that parent is responsible for them. 

This doesn’t mean they can’t see the other parent. But these visits must be court approved. And the other parent can’t turn up to see their child without permission. 

In contrast, joint physical custody means parents share the time they spend with their children. This might not be a 50/50 split depending on the parents’ schedules and living situations. But they both have access to the children. 

Legal custody is all about who makes the big decisions in your child’s life. This includes decisions about their health, welfare, and education. 

In sole legal custody, one parent is in charge of making these decisions. The other parent still has all of the same visitation rights. Often parents will have joint physical custody and one will have sole legal custody. 

Joint legal custody means you and your ex-partner continue to share responsibility for this decision making. This requires both of you to be absolutely on the same page. Drawing up a ‘parenting plan’ is a good idea in this situation.

Considerations When Deciding Child Custody

So now you know the answer to the question ‘how does a divorce with a child work?’ But you should be aware of the things that influence court-ordered custody agreements. 

A judge will take lots of things into consideration. This includes: 

  • Both parents’ financial situation
  • Both parents’ living situation
  • Both parents’ medical history
  • Any criminal records that either of you has
  • History of your parenting arrangements (for example who was the primary carer)

Making decisions about some of these things can be difficult. The judge will probably also request character references for you.

The reason they do this is to make sure they can put your child’s best interests first. Once they know that the environment you’re offering is safe and supportive they will consider your other arguments.  

Final Words

Going through a divorce involves a lot of hard decision making. This is why it isn’t something that people do at the drop of a hat. 

But the hardest of these decisions will involve your children. So child custody laws are there to protect you and your children during a divorce with kids.

To ensure you have the best lawyer on your side, get in touch with us today! Or for advice on how to talk to your kids about your divorce, check out our blog.