Child Custody Attorney in Coeur d’Alene
Although we tend to believe most child custody agreements are contentious and settled by a judge, in fact, parents settle almost 90 percent of child custody cases without benefit of a judge’s ruling. Only about 40 percent of states in the United States make a point of ensuring equal custody time between mothers and fathers. Even so, almost 80 percent of custodial parents in the U.S. are mothers. That is a slight decline from 2014 when 82.5 percent of custodial parents were mothers. Even if a judge’s ruling is not as necessary for custody agreements, it can make the decisions much easier when you have an experienced Coeur d’Alene child custody attorney by your side from start to finish.
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The primary consideration in child custody arrangements is the best interests of the child. To ensure this, Idaho child custody laws set forth certain factors to be considered by the court when determining which type of custody is in the best interests of the child. All pertinent information should be examined, including each parents’ capability for raising the child, home dynamics, the mental and physical health of each parent, and, in some cases, the preferences of the child. When everything is considered, child custody should reflect what is best for the child.
Why Choose a Coeur d’Alene Child Custody Attorney from Crouse Erickson?
When you are dealing with such an important matter as child custody, it is imperative that your attorney is highly experienced and able to present a complete picture to the assigned judge. We are highly client-centric at Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys—your satisfaction is our goal. We understand the need to present high-quality declarations and oral arguments to the court on your behalf. We have twenty-five years of experience in all matters related to family law, including child custody and child support. With an office located in Coeur d’Alene, our firm serves all of Kootenai County.
While many other law firms practice several different types of law, at Crouse Erickson we believe in doing one thing and doing it well. For us, that is practicing family law and helping our clients when they are at their most vulnerable. If you want to ensure your case is well-prepared and well-documented, having a determined, well-informed attorney from Crouse Erickson is invaluable. We will ensure you thoroughly understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case so you can make the best custody and parenting plan decisions.
How Are Custody and Visitation Rights Determined:
As noted, the best interests of the child will always be the overarching theme when custody and visitation are being decided. Custody determinations will be made by considering the following:
- Whether the parents have made their own agreements, knowingly and voluntarily;
- The wishes of the parents;
- The wishes of the child when that child is mature enough;
- The strength, nature, and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent;
- How each parent handled parenting functions in the past, and how they will handle them in the future;
- The developmental level of the child, as well as his or her emotional needs;
- The relationship the child has to each parent, siblings, grandparents, teachers, and other adults;
- The employment schedules of each parent;
- The ability and desire of each parent to compromise with the other parent, and
- Risk factors such as a history of child abuse, chemical dependence, or domestic violence.
In the state of Idaho, there is no set age limit regarding when a child has a voice in determining who he or she will live with. If the child is sufficiently mature and can express preferences that are both independent and reasoned, then those preferences may be taken into consideration. The judge may choose to interview a child out of the presence of both parents to ensure the child is not being influenced or pressured to give preference to one parent.
Idaho may grant reasonable visitation rights to grandparents, or even great-grandparents when it can be shown such visitation would be in the best interests of the child. In rare circumstances, a parent may be denied visitation or may be ordered to have supervised visitation. These circumstances might include incidents of child abuse or neglect, or if the parent has a serious drug or alcohol problem.
What is the Difference Between Legal Custody and Physical Custody?
Legal custody and physical custody will both be determined. Legal custody relates to which parent decides the important issues like the child’s education, health, and religion. In many cases, both parents will be awarded legal custody, even when primary physical custody goes to one parent. In other cases, depending on the circumstances, one parent may be granted legal custody.
The judge will then decide which parent the child will primarily live with, or whether physical custody will be split. While 50/50 physical custody is something many parents strive for, in most cases it is not entirely realistic, particularly if the parents do not live close to one another, and if the children are in school and have lots of after-school activities. One parent may be awarded primary physical custody, with the other receiving visitation rights.
What is a Parenting Plan?
A Parenting Plan addresses the child’s residential schedule after custody has been determined. Parents can agree on a Parenting Plan, but the court will decide whether the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child prior to approving it. The Parenting Plan must be highly detailed and must be closely followed by both parents. Typical provisions contained in a Parenting Plan include:
- A comprehensive visitation schedule for the school year, summer vacation, holidays, other vacations, and special occasions. Ideally, there will be backup plans in case the visitation schedule cannot be adhered to due to an emergency.
- Arrangements for transporting the children between parents, where the drop off and pickups will take place, as well as what time they will take place
- Terms for relocation in the event one parent wishes to move across the state or out of state
- Arrangements for childcare when the child is not with either parent
- Details regarding which parent will make decisions about education, health, and religion.
- How disputes regarding the Parenting Plan will be handled and how expenses will be allocated for dispute settlement
- How issues like curfews, cell phone use, and guidelines for entertainment will be handled
- In the case of a baby or toddler, how vaccinations, allergies, and sleeping arrangements will work
Before designing a Parenting Plan, consider all aspects of your unique situation. Raising children is difficult for married parents. When parents are divorced and live in separate homes, the challenges are greater because the relationships are more complex. Even if you believe you and your ex can work things out as they occur, having a detailed plan to fall back on is surely the best way to prevent conflict in the future.
Can I Modify a Child Custody Agreement Later On?
If there have been substantial and material changes to either parent’s circumstances since the original custody agreement, then a custody agreement could potentially be altered. A modification of a child custody agreement hinges on any new facts or changes that are in the best interests of the child. This could include a change in employment, a significant change in work schedule, the relocation of one parent, or the loss of a job.
Since your child custody agreement was based on the circumstances at the time, when major changes occur, the current child custody arrangements could become difficult to maintain, or irrelevant. Your Coeur d’Alene child custody attorney can file for custody modifications on your behalf. Your attorney will present new facts that did not exist at the time of the arrangement or facts that were not known at the time the arrangement was made. Few child custody modifications are entirely straightforward, so a judge will have to weigh all aspects of the proposed modification.
Can a Parent Refuse to Allow Visitation if Child Support is Not Paid?
Child support and visitation are two separate issues. If the parent that has visitation has not paid child support, the parent with primary custody is not allowed to deny the other visitation or to cut back his or her visitation times. In the reverse, if the parent with primary custody refuses to allow court-ordered visitation, the parent denied visitation is not allowed to stop paying child support. These are matters for a court to resolve—until that time, both parents should stick to the court-ordered visitation schedules.
How a Coeur d’Alene Child Custody Attorney from Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys Can Help
The Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys deal with family law issues every day—and have done this for 30 years. We understand that when you need a family law attorney you need that attorney right now. Family law matters are generally serious—and emotionally charged. There is so much on the line in family law issues, as well as complex legal rules and protocols that must be followed.
The Crouse Erickson attorneys are prepared for anything that might arise in your child custody case. We put in long hours, along with the necessary time and effort to make your child custody case successful. Our family law team has received extensive education and training in family law. We keep abreast of new legislation, as well as industry developments so we can continuously raise the bar in client service. With an office located in Coeur d’Alene, our firm serves all of Kootenai County. Contact the Crouse Erickson Family Law Attorneys today.