Child Custody Glossary
A Guide to Understanding Legal Terms
This glossary serves as an informative guide to understanding legal terminology surrounding child custody matters. This overview is for reference and is not a substitute for legal advice. For professional guidance based on your particular legal matter, consult with a family law attorney experienced in child custody matters.
- Best Interests of the Child: The primary consideration in determining custody arrangements, focusing on the well-being and welfare of the child.
- Child Custody Evaluation: A comprehensive assessment conducted by a neutral professional to evaluate the living situations and relationships of each parent to determine the best custodial arrangement for the child.
- Custodial Parent: The parent with whom the child primarily resides, holding physical and legal custody.
- Joint Custody: A custody arrangement where both parents share responsibilities and decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing.
- Legal Custody: The authority to make decisions regarding the child’s education, healthcare, and other important aspects of their life.
- Mediation: A facilitated process where a neutral third party assists parents in reaching agreements on custody and visitation without going to court.
- Modification: The legal process of seeking a change to an existing child custody order due to significant life changes or circumstances.
- Noncustodial Parent: The parent without primary physical custody of the child, typically granted visitation rights.
- Parenting Plan: A formal document outlining custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making responsibilities to ensure the child’s best interests are met.
- Physical Custody: The right to have the child physically present and living with a parent.
- Relocation: The process of moving a child’s residence to a new location, often requiring court approval.
- Sole Custody: A custody arrangement where one parent has both physical and legal custody of the child.
- Supervised Visitation: Court-ordered visitation that occurs under the supervision of an approved third party to ensure the child’s safety.
- Third-Party Custody: Custody granted to someone other than the biological parents, often a grandparent or close relative.
- Visitation Schedule: A court-approved plan outlining when the noncustodial parent will spend time with the child.
- Parental Alienation: A situation where one parent intentionally tries to distance the child from the other parent.
- Child Support: Financial payments made by one parent to the other for the financial care and support of the child.
- Grandparent Visitation: Legal provisions allowing grandparents to seek visitation rights with their grandchildren.
- Parallel Parenting: A co-parenting approach where each parent is highly involved in the child’s life but has limited direct interaction with the other parent.