Below are answers to some of the questions frequently encountered by the Boca Raton Law Offices of Richard B. Barkin as part of the firm’s family law practice.
Q. Can the child pick which parent to live with?
A. The best interests of the child lie at the heart of the court’s decision in granting custody, and the court is charged with doing everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma divorce may have on a child. To that extent, the child’s wishes may be considered as a factor in the court’s decision-making.
Q. Does the wife always get alimony/spousal support?
A. No. There is no gender bias in the awarding of alimony. The court may award the wife to pay alimony to the husband, or vice versa, or alimony may not be granted at all. If adultery is present in the case, this factor may influence the award and amount of alimony.
Q. Is alimony automatic after a certain number of years?
A. No. Whether alimony is awarded or not is determined by the court on a case-by-case basis. An award of alimony may be temporary or permanent, in periodic payments or lump sum or both.
Q. What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?
A. Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions regarding matters such as the education, medical care, and religious upbringing of the child. Physical custody refers to having actual physical care and control of the child – having the child live with you.
Legal custody may be decided regardless of how physical custody is determined, and issues of responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare may be shared or divided between the parents based on the desires of the parents and the best interests of the child.
Q. Will the court award grandparent visitation?
A. The court may award visitation rights to the grandparents if it deems it in the child’s best interest. It is not required that grandparents be a party to the divorce proceeding in order to be granted visitation rights. Once granted, grandparents do have standing to seek enforcement of the order through the courts, except that a court may not order a child to be kept within the state solely for the purposes of grandparent visitation (see below).
Q. May a parent move out of state while in custody of the child, if the move will materially affect the current time-sharing schedule of contact and access with the other parent?
A. The court would have to approve the move, after considering factors such as whether the move would be likely to improve the general quality of life for the parent and the child; the extent to which visitation rights have been allowed and exercised; whether a meaningful substitute visitation arrangement can be worked out, and whether the moving parent is likely to comply with it; and whether the cost of transportation is affordable by one or both parents.
If you have further questions or wish to speak with an attorney regarding a divorce, custody or alimony issue, contact the Law Offices of Richard B. Barkin.