a family law practice
call to schedule a consultation
child custody decisions
Whether married or unmarried, child custody and visitation matters are typically complicated with both parties fighting hard to protect their parental rights. Moreover, the children are typically caught in the middle of this difficult time. Nevertheless, the courts will decide these kinds of cases based on the "best interest" of the child.
When parties are working through child custody issues, they must keep in mind that the well-being of the children must be the first and only consideration.
Parents can craft a workable, parenting plan with the best interest of the child as a guiding principle and avoid costly and often times brutal child custody litigation.
Mitchell law has experience in navigating the custody process with minimal stress to the parties and more importantly, to the children.
Call to schedule a consultation
the custody order
The courts can decide matters of child custody either through a divorce decree or a stand-alone proceeding that focuses solely on custody matters. Whether in a stand-alone custody proceeding or a divorce proceeding, the mechanics of deciding custody are very similar.
The first order of business is usually deciding the "custodial parent," i.e. the parent who will be primarily responsible for the day-to-day care and rearing of the children.
facts & issues
that matter to the Court:
"In determining the care and custody of a child, the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration. To determine the best interest of the child, the court shall consider all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:
(A) the wishes of the child as to his or her custodian, where practicable;
(B) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to the child’s custody;
(C) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may emotionally or psychologically affect the child’s best interest;
(D) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
(E) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
(F) evidence of an intrafamily offense as defined in section 16-1001(5) [now § 16-1001(8)];
(G) the capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare;
(H) the willingness of the parents to share custody;
(I) the prior involvement of each parent in the child’s life;
(J) the potential disruption of the child’s social and school life;
(K) the geographic proximity of the parental homes as this relates to the practical considerations of the child’s residential schedule;
(L) the demands of parental employment;
(M) the age and number of children;
(N) the sincerity of each parent’s request;
(O) the parent’s ability to financially support a joint custody arrangement;
(P) the impact on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or Program on Work, Employment, and Responsibilities, and medical assistance; and
(Q) the benefit to the parents."
In many jurisdictions, such as in the District of Columbia, there is a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. The courts take the common sense proposition that both parents are important in the lives of children.
At Mitchell Law, we are experienced with the various arrangements of a "joint custody" order and can assist clients to navigate these unknown waters. For instance, joint custody does not necessarily mean the court will assign any certain proportion of physical custody or in the legal context, that any one parent has exclusive control of any aspect of how the child is reared. In some instances, a court may even order sole physical or legal custody to one parent or the other parent.
legal & physical custody
Child custody is typically divided into two general categories— "legal custody" and "physical custody."
Physical custody decisions, as the term implies considers how the parents will share time with the children. Typically, one parent has custodial custody and the non-custodial parent will have a schedule that will establish when and for how long they will spend time with the children.
Often these issues are the subject of intense negotiations between the parties as both parents are fully committed to full-time“ parenting.”
Legal custody decisions delve into issues that focus on the children’s religion, education, extra-curricular activities, and more. As with physical custody proceedings, parents will have to make decisions in this area that are in the “best interest of the children.”
Mitchell Law has extensive experience in assisting clients to sort out these post-order issues and achieve the best possible outcome.
Often times after the custody ordered is issued, the parties may find themselves at odds on the following matters:
#Enforcement of custody orders (i.e. when you believe that the other party is not complying with the custody order.) Non-compliance with a judge's orders can possibly lead to the other party being held in contempt of court.
#Modification of a custody order due to a change in circumstances
#Relocation of a custodial parent
#Modification of a parenting plan
mother or father
Mitchell Law D.C. has years of a experience and a solid track record in winning child custody disputes for moms and dads.