Making legal arrangements for the custody and residential placement of your children is a complicated and stressful process. Don’t go it alone. You need to work with an experienced attorney who can help you attain the best result for you and your children.
“Custody” means the legal rights and responsibilities pertaining to a child. It is also called “legal custody.” The natural parents of the child are presumed to have joint legal custody, unless a court orders otherwise.
“Residential Placement” is the actual home while the child lives when he or she is not having visitation with the other parent.
“Visitation” is the schedule by which the nonresidential parent gets to have time with the child. In fact, anyone, such as grandparents, can apply for visitation under certain conditions.
In Delaware, a Petition for Custody starts the process. If we can work out an agreement, then we can submit a consent order to the court. If not, we then have a mandatory mediation in front of a civilian mediator. That can sometimes resolve the matter, or it can at least put a temporary order in place until the parents can have a formal hearing with a judge. At both the mediation and the hearing, the court is required to follow our “best interest of the child” statute, which considers the following eight factors:
- The wishes of the child’s parents as to his/her custody and living arrangements;
- The wishes of the child as to his/her custody and living arrangements;
- The interaction of the child with his/her parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents and any people living in the child’s home or affecting the child’s best interest;
- The child’s adjustment to his/her home, school and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- How well each parent has in the past and currently satisfies their parental rights and responsibilities with respect to their children;
- Evidence of domestic violence; and
- The criminal history of any party or other resident of a household.
Contact Collins & Associates for a no charge initial consultation at 302-655-4600 to learn your options.