Your divorce has the potential to be a destabilizing event in your children’s lives. They are likely accustomed to living with both you and your spouse under one roof, and they may have difficulty adjusting to shuttling between two different households. To help your children feel safe and secure during this challenging time, you will want to work out a custody arrangement that reflects their best interests. Before setting one forth, it is important to understand the factors that affect child custody in Delaware.
Understanding Delaware’s custody laws
In Delaware, any child custody agreement you establish – whether in or out of court – must center around your children’s best interests. These are determined by accounting for a variety of factors that will affect their well-being. Among the factors that must be considered are:
- The mental and physical health of you, your spouse and your children
- The proximity of your and your spouse’s households after your divorce
- The relationship your children have with their home, school and community
- The relationship your children have with you, your spouse and other family members in your household
- Whether you and your spouse both have a history of complying with your parental rights and responsibilities
- Whether you or your spouse have a history of criminal activity, domestic violence or substance abuse
- You and your spouse’s ability to communicate with each other
- Your and your spouse’s work schedules
- Your and your spouse’s wishes regarding custody
- Your children’s wishes regarding custody
Different types of custody
Depending on your children’s best interests, you and your spouse may end up sharing custody of them. If you end up with joint physical custody, your children will spend significant time living at both your households. Furthermore, you will both be responsible for their day-to-day care. If you and your spouse end up with joint legal custody, you will both have the right and responsibility to make important decisions about your children’s upbringing.
Your circumstances may make it more appropriate for you or your spouse to receive sole physical custody of your children. If this happens, your children’s noncustodial parent – whether you or your spouse – will likely receive visitation. If one of you ends up with sole legal custody, you will have the right and responsibility to make important decisions about your children’s upbringing without the other parent’s input. Whichever of you is the noncustodial parent, in this case, has the right to request information about your children’s school and health records and to attend their appointments, conferences and events.
Working out child custody can be difficult, even in the most amicable divorces. To set forth an arrangement that prioritizes your children’s needs, you will want to seek the help of a family law attorney.