Families Change Kids Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Custody and Visiting Rights

Jeremy: The responsibility to take care of the children is called parental authorityThe responsibility to take care of a child and make decisions for the child. If the parents have split up, both parents usually still have parental authority. Sometimes a person who is not a parent can have parental authority.. When your parents live together, both of them have to take care of you. They both have parental authority over you.

After your parents split-up, you might live with just one parent. This is called sole custodyWhen two people stop living together.

If one parent has custody, the other parent usually has visiting rightsThe time kids spend with the parent they don’t live with. This means that you get to visit the other parent.

There are lots of different ways you can spend time with that parent.

After your parents split-up, you might live with both parents in two different homes. This is called joint custodyWhen both parents help to make decisions about their kids’ lives. Usually, the kids live with each parent some of the time.

When your parents split up, they might be able to agree on who has custodyHaving the responsibility to make all the decisions for a child, including where they live and how the other parent can have visiting rightsThe time kids spend with the parent they don’t live with with you. But if they can’t agree, even with the help of a mediatorA person who does mediation, and helps people agree about things, they have to go to courtA place where a judge makes decisions. The judgeA person who knows a lot about the law, makes decisions for people, and is in charge of a court will make decisions about parenting.

To make the decision, the judge will think about things like this:

  • What will give you the fewest changes to deal with?
  • Are both of your parents healthy and responsible?
  • What are your parents’ plans for themselves and for you?
  • How close do you feel to each of your parents?
  • Do family and friends live near your parents?