Often the most difficult issue to resolve in a divorce is child custody. You can see how quickly your children are growing up, and you don’t want to lose any of the time you might spend with them. You also want to guide and counsel them as they grow. Unfortunately, there usually has to be some give and take when it comes to custody, and the court is primarily concerned with the best interest of the child rather than your personal goals. For these reasons, it’s important to work closely with an experienced and dedicated child custody lawyer. At The Henry Law Firm, P.A., we draw on more than 20 years of combined experience to help our clients find appropriate and lasting solutions to even the most complex child custody disputes.
Child custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of a parent toward a child. In Kansas, there are two concurrent types of child custody:
When both parents are mature and responsible, courts favor joint (shared) legal custody. Residential custody depends on the ability and availability of a parent to perform the duties of a primary caretaker. If parents do not share residential custody, the nonresidential parent generally has the right to frequent, meaningful visitation. However, if a parent is unfit, and contact would be detrimental to the child, the court can restrict or prohibit visitation.
Family law courts in Kansas decide custody issues based on the best interests of the child. Judges consider numerous factors when determining what type of custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest.
Courts often prefer for parents to work out a parenting plan on their own and present it to the court for approval. The approved plan then becomes the basis for the court’s custody order. Our family law and divorce attorneys are often successful in helping clients achieve settlements through traditional negotiation or mediation, so they can avoid the additional time, stress and expense of a trial. A settlement gives you greater control over the outcome, and both parents are generally more likely to commit to a plan they’ve worked out on their own, rather than one handed down to them by a judge.
One of the most difficult child custody issues to work out arises when a residential parent wants to move to a distance that would burden the visitation rights of a nonresidential parent. Like many states, Kansas has a specific child relocation statute that governs this issue. A residential parent who wants to relocate must give notice to the other parent, who has the right to oppose the move. The court will consider the possibility of a move as a substantial change in circumstances that could warrant a change to the child custody order. The court looks at any and all relevant factors to determine whether the move is in the child’s best interests.
If you find your parenting plan is not working, or if one parent refuses to abide by the plan, you may have to return to court. A court generally requires a material change of circumstances to grant a modification. So, if a residential parent has failed to live up to his or her responsibilities, like getting a child ready for visitation, a judge is likely to issue a warning that the parent can be held in contempt of court. However, for more serious issues, the court could exercise its authority to change the custody order.
The Henry Law Firm, P.A. cares about your relationship with your children. We want to help you obtain a child custody order that serves your child’s best interests and allows you to maintain a loving relationship. To schedule a consultation with our Overland Park attorneys, call us at 913-381-5020 or contact our firm online.