Child Custody and Visitation Attorneys in Rhode Island
Rhode Island Child Custody and Visitation Rights Lawyers
There is nothing more important during the divorce or separation process than the care of and attention to the children. Children can experience deep emotional distress when parents divorce whether they visibly display their symptoms or not. Most children see the divorce as extending toward them as well, and worry that they are ‘losing’ one of their parents, or, worse, that they have somehow caused the divorce themselves. They may fear that they will not have a home. It is clear from the research that children of divorce fare as well as the parents do in the process. If the parents are bitter and hostile, the children will have a tougher time of it.
Parties to divorce with children should consider professional counseling for the two of them (“exit” counseling); for each of them separately, or for the children. They should also consider mediation as a way to avoid bitterness, resentment and hostility. When the parties behave civilly towards one another the children adjust more easily to the changes.
What Do the Courts Look For?
The Courts look at various factors when deciding what is in the “best interest of the child” when determining matters of custody and visitation. The court must analyze eight factors in its determination:
The wishes of the child’s parent or parents regarding the child’s custody
The reasonable preference of the child if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference
The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest
The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school and community
The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
The stability of the child’s home environment
The moral fitness of the child’s parents
The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a close and continuous parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent
In a contested custody trial the court will examine all factors in deciding who will get custody. In most divorces in Rhode Island, the parties agree to share “joint legal custody” which provides for mutual responsibility in major decisions regarding the children’s welfare including education, medical care, and emotional, moral , and religious development. Most parties also agree that one parent will have physical placement. If the parties can not agree, the court will normally order that one parent will have physical placement. Some parents agreed to share physical placement. These parenting arrangements are sometimes more fair to the parents (in theory) than they are fair (in practice) to the children. Each situation is individual and the best result is based upon the needs and abilities of the children, the practical aspects of the individual case such as available time to parent and what is ultimately in the “best interest” of the child.
Visitation is often decided by the parties and is based predominantly upon what is reasonable for the child, convenient for each party based upon their work schedules and what will be considered acceptable by the court. In the event that the parties can not come to an agreement on this matter, the court will decide on a visitation schedule and order specific visitation. Some divorcing parties mediate custody, placement and visitation with experienced mediators who assist divorcing parents to set up a parenting plan and a parenting schedule.