Custody and Visitation
Firm Practice Areas
There is no decision more important for parents going through a separation and divorce than custody and visitation of their child or children. Nicholas J Dombalis, II has almost 40 years of experience in assisting clients in resolving issues related to custody and visitation. Mr. Dombalis will make every effort to help his clients resolve the custody and visitation issues by negotiating with the attorney for the other parent. Once the parties have arrived at an agreement which each of them feels is in the best interest of the children, the agreement can be documented in a formal and binding Separation Agreement. In those cases in which the custody and visitation issues cannot be resolved in a Separation Agreement, the parties will call upon the Court to make those decisions for them.
Custody mediation is required in custody cases which have been filed with the court. Trained custody mediators will meet with the parents and attempt to facilitate an agreement between the parties as to custody and visitation. The mediator will not make a decision on custody and visitation. The decision will be left up to the parents. If the parents are able to come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation their agreement will be documented in a Parenting Agreement which in most instances will become an order of the court.
Custody decisions by the court are based upon what is in the best interests of the child. The best interest of the child has often been described by our courts as the “polar star” in custody and visitation cases. A decision must be made as to legal custody, which involves the making of important decisions for a child. Such decisions such as the school that a child is to attend, major disciplinary issues, healthcare decisions, and extracurricular activities are examples of important decisions that are addressed in a separation agreement or in a court order. The presumption is that the parents will jointly exercise legal custody and together make those important decisions for the child.
Physical custody involves a decision as to the living arrangements for the child. There are many different ways in which physical custody can be resolved. For example, one parent might have physical custody during the week and the other parent have custody on the weekends. The parents may decide that it is in the best interest of the child for them to equally share physical custody. Such an arrangement can involve a child living with a parent one week and with the other parent the following week. Some parents will choose a schedule which involves a child being with one parent for two days of the school week, being with the other parent during the other two days of the school week, and then alternating custody between the parents on the weekends. Arrangements for custody and visitation during holidays, special event days and the summer months must also be taken into consideration.
If the court is called upon to make a decision as to custody and visitation there will be many factors for the court to consider. Mr. Dombalis has many years of experience in litigating custody cases and will help his clients in putting together a custody case which addresses those issues which are likely to be most important to the court in a custody determination.
If you would like to talk to Mr. Dombalis about a custody matter, please call him to schedule an appointment.