The separation announcement of actors Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan last year stunned many fans of the Hollywood couple, who had bought into the blissful image they had curated through years of Instagram posts and entertainment interviews. While the two pledged to remain best friends when they separated, public leaks and statements that are far from amicable have marked the past year. At the heart of their tension is custody of their child—which can quickly sour the most graceful of separations.
Child custody presents ongoing and challenging issues that parents must navigate for the sake of their children. Because children need stability and predictability, it is best for children when parents obtain a child custody order that dictates precisely how custody, visitation, and access will work moving forward. In the majority of cases, parents work out custody agreements, which are then presented to a family court for approval as an order of the court.
One of the true tests of a thoughtful child custody order is whether it provides clear direction and guidance to parents. There are numerous details essential to accomplishing this.
- Legal and physical custody of the child. First and foremost, a custody order should definitively address custody. These are essential rights that involve making decisions about the child and the right to primary possession of the child. Orders need to be clear on the division of legal and physical custody rights between the parents. Legal custody dictates which parent(s) are able to make legal, medical, educational, and other major decisions impacting the child. It is common for parents to have joint legal custody, giving them both a voice in how the child is raised. Physical custody determines the visitation schedule that the child has with each parent.
- A clear and unambiguous visitation schedule. This needs to address a weekly visitation schedule during the school year and the summer. It must also address who will have the children on holidays and special occasions. The visitation schedule should also determine other miscellaneous issues, such as how and when the child will be exchanged between the parents, who is or is not allowed around the child, and rules for traveling with the child.
- Conflict resolution. There will come a time when one parent or the other will need some flexibility to change the visitation schedule, to deviate from the schedule, or trade visitation time. An effective child custody order must address how conflicts are resolved when parents cannot reach an agreement.
- Electronic communication and access. In addition to a specific visitation, non-custodial parents are typically entitled to ample telephone or electronic communication with their children. The custody order should specify how this will work, the limits to the communication, and how these services (phone/internet) will be paid for.
- Geographic restrictions. Parental relocation is one of the most explosive situations that occur when parents are separated. While courts will likely address any attempt of a parent to relocate with a child, it is a standard and essential detail to restrict a significant move with the child absent parental agreement or court approval.
New Direction Family Law
If you want certainty and stability for your child, you need a clear and enforceable child custody order. At New Direction Family Law, our attorneys are thoughtful and meticulous when it comes to creating agreements and orders that will impact you and your children for years to come. With years of experience and unparalleled knowledge, we can help you resolve your child custody dispute. If you need an original child custody order or to modify an existing one, call us. Our office serves clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.