Careful communication is critical to helping resolve disputes, particularly emotional disputes. In child custody cases, this is especially true given the attachment parents have around issues of custody. This is partly what underlies recent changes made to state law concerning custody issues.
The new law, which went into effect back in January, makes changes to the language around custody and visitation-related issues by replacing them with the terms parental duties and parenting time instead. Commentators have said that changes in these areas are primarily cosmetic, but that changing the language could help encourage more efficient resolution of disputes.
There are some substantive changes under the new law, though. For one thing, the new law gives parents a greater ability to allocate responsibility for decisions involving children. Whereas the old law recognized parents as having either sole custody or joint custody and assigned the ability to decisions for minor children, the new law allows parents to allocate decision-making responsibility for different areas of a child’s life. This could help parents to better negotiate decision-making regarding areas they really care about, as opposed to requiring parents to agree on decisions or giving one or the other parent full control of decision-making.
Custodial parents are also, under the new law, now able to move with their children without obtaining special court approval, provided they don’t move more than 25 miles from their established residence. This will help reduce the amount of time parties spend in court when there is a relocation that will not significantly affect the other parent’s ability to see the children.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at the changes and highlight how an experienced attorney can help a parent navigate custody and visitation issues under the new law, and in general.