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Child Custody

Child CustodyfamilyThere is nothing more heart-wrenching than family issues that involve children.

Mr. Wilcox has represented hundreds of divorce cases that involve child custody and juvenile clients over the past 10 years and has come to be known as someone in the community who works well with children and is sensitive to their unique situation in difficult situations.

Below you will find some basic information regarding child custody issues.

Many times, child custody issues start with someone initiating a divorce.

One of the major issues in a divorce is who obtains custody of the minor children when the divorce judgment is signed.  There are no steadfast rules as to which party gets physical and legal custody of the minor children, but the following will outline some of the procedures that go into determining the eventual outcome:

Legal Custody is the term commonly used that refers to who has the authority to make major decisions in the child’s life.  For example, religious beliefs, where the child goes to school, major discipline issues, and other major life events are some of the decisions that the parent or parents have the authority to make.  It is customary for both parents to have legal custody of the minor child.

Physical Custody refers to who has the minor child the majority of the time.  The main issue that needs to be determined is the parenting time arragnment between the parties.  Once that is established the person with the most time is normally considered to have physical custody.

There are several ways to obtain a Parenting Time Schedule.


The best and most efficient manner to have a parenting time schedule is by consent of the parties.   Sometimes both parents can sit down and come to a joint resolution on who has the minor child on certain days.

 Interim Orders

During the divorce process, which can take up to a year to complete, the courts will determine the parenting time schedule on an interim basis until the divorce is final.   These orders can come from the courts in various ways.  A couple of examples are:

 Ex-parte Orders

The Judge will sign paperwork at the initial filing by the plaintiff authorizing the parenting time schedule prior to any court hearings.  This is rare and is normally done in extreme situations.


The parties meet with a conciliator and either agrees to a parenting time schedule with the assistance of the conciliator or the conciliator makes recommendations to the court.  The court will normally make the conciliator’s recommendations interim orders until further order of the court.   Both parties can object to the concilator’s recommendations and a hearing will then decide the interim parenting time schedule.


A hearing will be heard by a referee to decide the interim parenting time schedule during the pendency of your divorce.  Again, either party may appeal the referee’s decision to the appropriate Judge but it is typically a time- consuming ordeal.

 Friend of the Court (FOC)

If the parties agree, a FOC representative will interview and meet the appropriate people and make recommendations on physical custody and the parenting time schedule. This process takes several months and either party can appeal the recommendations to the presiding Judge.


In certain situations, a mediator will handle the custody issues and attempt to resolve the dispute.  In this manner, it would have to be by consent of the parties with the assistance of the mediator.


Similar to any other trial situation, a trial would be conducted to determine custody.

In general, most Judges do not like week on and week off visitation schedules.  This makes it difficult on the children to move to a different home each week.  This is not to say it doesn’t happen, but normally the courts want a custodial parent with physical custody and then have a parenting time schedule for the other party.

The courts will normally respect the parenting time request by the parties if they can agree.

A common custody schedule for the non-physical custody parent is for them to have the child or children every other weekend and sometime during the week after school for a few hours.

Parents will split major holidays and will have kids every two weeks in the summer.

Again though, each case is unique and will have its own set of circumstances.


Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Wilcox at any time if you have questions or to set up a free consultation.


DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this website is meant to be general, informative and educational. It should not be taken as specific legal advice to any particular problem or issue. Please consult an attorney personally to discuss your particular circumstances.