Helping Parents & Their Families for Over 25+ Years
Child custody is one of the most emotional and important issues for parents facing divorce. At Moyer Law, our Rhode Island child custody lawyer is extremely knowledgeable about state laws regarding parenting and custody. Our legal team has successfully represented over one thousand clients in Rhode Island.
Our representation extends beyond divorce, and includes other family law actions involving contested and complex child custody cases. We understand that such cases are often highly emotional, which is why we provide strong but sensitive representation to help families quickly reach a favorable resolution.
Contact our Rhode Island child custody attorneys today!
Creating a comprehensive parenting plan allows you to work through many of the situations that will occur throughout the year. Coming up with a plan will help you think about how you want to deal with them. For instance, how will you divide major and minor holidays? Or school breaks or summer vacation?
How will you decide with the other parent the choice of school, doctors, and extracurricular activities? How will decision-making authority for medical issues and emergencies be handled? What will the weekly living arrangement be like? Will you alternate days or weeks, or will one parent have primary custody?
Working with your child custody lawyer in Rhode Island, look at a calendar and your work schedule to see what times would work. For example, proposing an alternating-week custody schedule may be unrealistic if you or your former spouse have jobs where travel is required during 40 percent of the month. Mediation is another option.
A well-thought-out and viable parenting plan can help set the proper expectations for all parties involved. It can also provide the tools and framework you need to deal with issues that will inevitably arise. More importantly, it can provide a mechanism to keep your relationship civil and prevent conflicts from getting out of control.
5 Steps to Take Before Child Custody Mediation
Here’s how to approach the situation as you head toward mediation.
- Keep this in mind: If you and your spouse don’t agree on the terms of custody and visitation, a judge will do it for you. Any sense of powerlessness that you have right now is nothing compared to how it can feel if a judge steps in. It’s in the best interest of both parents to come to an agreement.
- Make a list of your top concerns and your custody proposal. Be fair, and have an explanation available as to how you came to that particular breakout. For example, if your child suffers from a learning disability, you may feel like it is best that he or she spends all school weeks in the same household, rather than rotate back and forth between your household and your ex-spouse’s household.
- Find out what sort of documentation your mediator will allow you to bring. Will you need school records? Should you have a letter from your child’s therapist or doctor? Do you just need a list of contact people that your mediator can reach in order to get more information about the situation? Discuss this carefully with your attorney in advance so that you aren’t unprepared.
- Communicate with your spouse before you get to mediation. The more open the lines of communication, the better this could go for you both. Try to keep in mind that your problems with your spouse aren’t your children’s problems and that you both still want what is best for them.
- See a counselor. You need to learn how to control your emotions before you get to mediation because you are going to be judged on how you present yourself. If you are seething with barely controlled anger toward your spouse, that’s not going to make a good impression.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, having legal custody means you have the right to make major decisions regarding your child's upbringing. If you have sole legal custody, you have sole decision-making authority and you don't have to consult with your child's other parent when it comes to issues like health, education, and religion.
However, if you have joint legal custody, then you and your child's other parent will need to set a plan for how major decisions will be made about their upbringing. Physical custody is generally described as possession or physical possession in Rhode Island and refers to which parent is the primary caretaker of the child.
Like legal custody, physical custody can be sole or joint. A parent that has sole physical custody of their child is entitled to child support payments. A parent that does not have sole physical custody, also called the non-custodial parent, can still see their child, though it would be considered visitation, not custody.
At What Age Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With in RI?
There is no set age in Rhode Island at which a child can decide which parent to live with. The court will consider the child's wishes, but they are not the only factor in custody decisions. The court will also consider the child's best interests, including factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, the stability of each parent's home, and the child's educational and extracurricular needs.
The older the child is, the more weight the court will give their wishes. However, the court will always consider the child's best interests, even if their wishes are not in their best interests.
If you are going through a divorce or separation in Rhode Island, speaking with an attorney who can help you understand the custody process and protect your rights is crucial.
The Rhode Island Family Court Act states that the court shall consider the child's wishes "if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to express a preference." The court will also consider the child's "emotional ties with each parent," the "child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community," and the "mental and physical health of all parties involved." The court will make a custody decision that is in the child's best interests. The court will not automatically grant custody to the parent that the child prefers. Instead, the court will consider all of the factors involved in the case and make a decision that is in the child's best interests.
Child Custody Mistakes to Avoid
There are a number of child custody mistakes that can have a detrimental effect on the parents seeking custody or on the children. Many of the mistakes amount to little more than common sense. This means that if the parents would not act as frequently on their emotions, they may find the outcome could be more in their favor.
For example, here are many child custody mistakes to avoid — and yes, someone has actually made these mistakes at one time or another.
- Avoid discussing the case on social media. Discussing how much you dislike the fact that your child’s other parent will have visitation is not a wise undertaking. In fact, posting on social media anything that someone could consider derogatory could make a judge look at you unfavorably. Avoiding social media altogether until the divorce decree is final is the best choice.
- Do not send text alcohol or drug-fueled messages to your ex. You can end up saying things you can’t take back, but that your ex will be more than happy to show the judge.
- Illegal drugs use is out. At any time during a Rhode Island child custody case, the judge may order either or both parents to submit to a drug test. A positive test could lead to supervised visitation.
- Do not refuse to pay child support because the other parent would not let you see your child. Instead, contact your child custody attorney and get the matter before a judge.
- Do not call the judge. Allow your attorney to advocate for you in court. It is not appropriate to call the judge or to write him or her a letter.
Call Moyer Law, PC to Learn More About Your Options
When it comes to child custody, many people don’t know where to start. It can be difficult to move beyond the emotions at hand and come to an agreement. Our Rhode Island child custody lawyer at Moyer Law, PC can guide you through it, carefully explaining the process, as well as your rights and options.
Call at (401) 305-2934 to get started on your custody case. You are not alone. Our Rhode Island child custody attorneys are here to walk you through the process from beginning to end.
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