Every state has its own family law systems, and the differences between how a particular state and its neighbors deal with matters of divorce and child custody can be surprisingly significant. For example, family court judges in Kentucky are more likely to award split child custody, in which the parents each have physical custody about half the time. Meanwhile, in Ohio and Indiana, the courts are more likely to award sole custody to one parent and reserve visitation time for the other.
Of course, sharing custody is not appropriate in every case, and state law makes the child’s best interest paramount in custody disputes. If one parent committed domestic violence or child abuse, the judge will be much more likely to award sole custody to the other parent.
Otherwise, the judge will consider a range of factors, such as the parents’ wishes, their parenting abilities, whether the child is closer to one parent than the other, and how easy it would be for the child to adjust to a new school or neighborhood. Depending on the child’s age, he or she may be allowed to give an opinion as well.
Whether you and your ex can agree on a parenting plan out of court, or you must go before a judge to settle the matter, you will need an attorney to help. An experienced attorney will help you negotiate a settlement, or protect your parental rights in court if necessary. The most important thing is that the child be put in a position to thrive.