If you’re seeking family law legal advice, you can certainly obtain it from child custody or divorce attorneys in a family law firm. But before you seek their help and assistance, it’s still recommended that you do your own research about the subject before you file a claim or appear in court.
To make sure that you understand what your legal representation is talking about, both in and out of the courtroom, here are some common words and phrases that you may hear your family law attorneys using, and what they mean.
- Legal Custody: When one is granted legal custody of a child, they have the right to make decisions concerning the child’s upbringing. This can include schooling, religion, medical decisions, and more. Parents may share legal custody, meaning that they have to agree on how they plan to raise the child, or one parent may have primary legal custody and be solely responsible for these decisions.
- Physical Custody: Physical custody is when the child is able to stay with either one or both parents. There are a number of other degrees of physical custody, including:
- Sole custody: Child lives with only one parent
- Primary custody: Child lives with one parent an overwhelming majority of the time.
- Shared custody: Child lives with both parents; child’s time to be split between his or her parents by schedule. Evenings, holidays, weekends, and school breaks are all divided.
- Partial custody: One parent may seek to have limited custodial contact with the child, as per the primary custodian.
- Supervised partial custody: One parent may visit with the child, but only under the supervision of an agency, officer, parent, or other designated adult.
- Petition for Modification: This document is required to make any changes to an existing custody order. In order to do so, a final custody order must have been issued.
- Petition for Enforcement: If you feel like the other party (your former partner) has failed to follow the custody order, you may submit this petition. This may be issued in a number of cases, including if the non-custodial parent does not pay child support, which is not uncommon. In 2011, only 62.3% of custodial parents received money owed in child support.