Considering how central children are to their parents’ lives, it is not surprising that child custody disputes during divorce are common. Some couples continue to quarrel about child custody even after the divorce agreement is signed and the custody arrangements are in place. If you are involved in a custody dispute for any reason, turn to Randall J. Borden, Attorney at Law.

With proper legal intervention, many child custody disputes can be settled out of court, but Randall Borden is always prepared to litigate if necessary to act in your best interests. As a family law attorney serving clients in Virginia and Maryland for over 30 years, he is well-prepared to find the best solution for your family. Call today for a confidential consultation. 

Understanding Child Custody

To understand child custody disputes, it is imperative to understand the various terms applied to child custody arrangements.

Legal Custody gives each parent the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s education, health care, religious upbringing, etc. Needless to say, divorced parents often differ in their perspectives about such matters, so the fact that their opinions carry equal weight can make coming to a collaborative decision extremely difficult. Nonetheless, usually, the only time one parent is given sole legal custody is when the court deems the other parent unfit due to issues of substance abuse, psychiatric disorder, or a history of domestic violence or abuse.

Physical Custody, in contrast, refers to the place in which the child resides. In joint custody arrangements, highly favored by the courts, the child’s time is more or less evenly distributed so that the child spends approximately the same amount of time with each parent.

Joint Custody requires that both parents communicate and cooperate, whether in coming to important decisions about their child’s welfare or by alternately sharing their child’s physical presence by following arrangements that are workable for both parties.

Sole Custody, as noted, is awarded only rarely in terms of legal custody but is much more common in physical custody when work schedules or housing details (such as distance from the child’s school) make it more convenient for the child to live most of the time with one parent but to spend generous amounts of time (known as visitation) with the other. 

It is easy to imagine how couples whose conflicts lead to divorce may be drawn into disputes over the above concepts.

Reasons for Major Child Custody Disputes

There are several reasons parents argue about child custody. While the courts generally favor joint custody in all but extreme cases, such as cases in which there is evidence of child abuse or domestic violence, many parents feel that joint custody will not serve the best interests of their child. 

Either parents may feel that they can provide better housing or a more nourishing environment for the child, or that with them, the child will be living closer to school, relatives, or friends, or that the other parent is a bad influence on the child or neglectful of their needs. Common disputes over custody involve:

  • Concerns about the child’s safety — One parent may feel that the other parent’s misconduct, lifestyle, or associates put their child at risk. Accusations of domestic violence, substance abuse, criminal behavior, child abuse, or neglect may require litigation to protect the child. 
  • Relocation — If the custodial parent decides to move with the child to another city, state, or country, the noncustodial parent is likely to dispute the move to prevent losing regular access to their child.
  • Disputes over parenting decisions — Though in most cases both parents share legal custody, it is not rare for them to disagree with one another about consequential decisions involving their child, such as where the child will be schooled, or whether they should have a particular medical treatment.
  • Enforcement of current orders — It is fairly common for one parent to fail to follow the terms of the child custody order by, for example, not meeting the terms of visitation. When agreed-upon arrangements are not followed regularly, or one parent is overly demanding and inflexible, such disputes may require legal intervention.
  • Modifications to existing custody arrangements — When the a need to modify existing custody orders because of changes in a parent’s work schedule, the child’s needs, or a health crisis, having the right child custody attorney can make a critical difference.
  • Claims of parental alienation — Unfortunately, it is difficult for some divorced parents to avoid badmouthing their ex-spouse. This can be painful to the child and interfere with the child’s ability to maintain a comfortable relationship with the parent who is being disparaged. If one parent believes that the other is intentionally turning their child against them, the situation may mandate forceful legal negotiations or further litigation.

Contact Our Experienced Fairfax Child Custody Disputes Attorney

If any of the above child custody disputes are familiar to you, you are by no means alone. Not only are a great number of divorced parents experiencing similar stresses, Randall Borden is here to help you navigate the troubling waters of child custody disputes. When necessary, he is always ready to vigorously advocate for you in court. Get in touch with Attorney Borden today; he understands that your child’s well-being is your top priority.