When talking about child custody, many immediately think of where the child will physically live. However, child custody agreements go way beyond just where a child will live. In fact, custodial rights give parents the legal right to make decisions regarding medical care, the religious upbringing of their children and other important factors that often come with parenting.
At Walling, Berg & Debele, P.A., we look at the big picture when helping to establish custody.
Ideally, parents will be able to reach a custody agreement, without it needing to be handed down by a judge. However, we are also realistic and realize this is not always the case, as tensions may be running just too high and the concerns are just too great.
In making these determinations -- whether parents are able to come to these agreements amicably between themselves, or need the courts to step in -- the basis must always be the same: To have agreements that best serve the interests of the child. This is true whether talking about joint custody or sole custody.
When talking about these decisions, as parents, it is also important to not only look at the here and now, but also anticipate future decisions. For example, if a child is 5 years old now, it may be strange to think about, but -- as a parent -- how would you feel about your child entering the military or marrying before the age of 18? In both of these scenarios, a parent would need to approve such decisions, as the child would not legally be an adult.
Custody is what grants parents the right to make decisions on these types of scenarios and say either yes -- or no -- to such things as marriage before 18, joining the military before 18, getting a driver's license, religious upbringing and the authorization for medical care. Â These rights and responsibilities must always be taken seriously.