What are my Parental Rights During and After a Divorce?

If you are dissolving your marriage, you’re likely wondering what your parental rights are, especially when you are the noncustodial parent. If it’s any consolation, you are not alone.

Parental rights may shift drastically during the divorce hearings. Before the court issues the final verdict, both spouses retain their equal rights to care for the children like they used to before the divorce. However, once the court grants the divorce, it spells out each parent’s parental responsibilities and rights which both spouses will have to adhere to. These rights include both the legal and physical custody of the children.

Parental responsibility

Parental responsibility includes all rights, powers, duties, authorities, and responsibilities which a child’s parent legally has with regards to the child and his property. Meaning, having the right to make decisions about the kid – including their medical treatment, the school they attend and religion they follow, if applicable.

Mothers automatically get parental responsibility, but fathers only automatically acquire the responsibility if they were married to the mother at the time the child was born. In case the parents were not married, the father has to jointly register the birth with the mother of the child. If the father doesn’t obtain parental responsibility, he can do so by getting an order or agreement from the court. Divorce does not remove parental responsibility from either the mother or father, and it can continue to be shared.

Parenting agreement

During the divorce, parents can present their plans to address child custody, child support, visitation schedules and parenting time. If both spouses agree to share both the legal and physical custody of a kid, the court may grant their wishes. But when doing this, the court considers the best interest of the child, their special needs as well as the child’s bond with each parent. If the court establishes that the parenting agreement is not in the best interest of the child, it can use a custody order that opposes the parents’ agreement.

Temporary custody orders

At the onset of a divorce, before the court rules out who gets child custody and who pays for child support, both parents will continue sharing the legal and physical custody of the child. When the court grants the temporary custody order, the judge may also order temporary child support and spousal maintenance.

Scheduled visitation rights

When both spouses fail to agree, the court determines who gets the physical and legal custody in line with the child’s best interest. The judge may rule out a sole or joint legal custody and sole or joint physical custody. Once the judge determines the custodial and noncustodial parent, he or she generally issues the noncustodial parent visitation rights.

Working with an attorney

If you don’t have a clear understanding of your legal divorce rights when kids are involved, its best to work with an experienced family lawyer. You shouldn’t give up custody out of fear of losing in court. Since both parents have equal legal rights over children, you should not compromise before court/mediation. A good lawyer will ensure that you have the same parenting time and sometimes, full custody of the children.

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