By default, married couples have joint custody of any children they may have. Unmarried couples and divorced or separated couples, however, need to use child custody agreements to designate legal and physical custodial responsibilities. Depending on the needs and preferences of the parents, plus any extenuating circumstances like abuse or drug use, custody agreements can provide for shared custody on an equal basis, sole custody with visitation rights for the other parent, or something in between.
Once a custody agreement has been established, parents must abide by it. The only way to change the custody agreement is by hiring an attorney to file a legal petition for custody modifications.
Reasons for custody modifications Claremont CA include:
- Drug use
- Criminal activity
- Mental health deterioration
- Improved behavior of non-custodial spouse
- Mutual parental preference
- Death of primary custodian
For example, if sole custody was awarded to your ex-spouse, but since the divorce they have become an unfit parent due to drug addiction, you should definitely file for a custody modification to remove your child from an unsafe home environment.
Remember that legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody means the parent has the right to make choices regarding the child’s health, education, and welfare. Physical custody means the child is physically in the care of the parent and lives with them. If you have any questions about the rights and responsibilities involved in these two types of custody, be sure to ask your attorney before any custody modifications are finalized.