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How child custody works during separation

During a separation, child custody rights are every bit as important as after a divorce. Typically, child custody rights and issues are resolved as part of divorce proceedings, but if you're only separated, that can be a challenge. If you and your spouse separate, you can make child custody decisions on your own, work through mediation, or get the help of your attorneys to determine a good parenting plan until the case goes to court; if you have a plan you agree on, you may get the court to put it into place permanently.

The first thing that you should be considering is what's in your child's best interest. If your child is old enough to decide for him or herself, you could consider asking what he or she would like to do. Your child may have a preference of where he or she'd like to live, which parent he or she wants to live with and even where he or she wants to attend school.

Other factors to consider include how the child interacts with other members in the household or extended family of either parent. The mental and physical health of each parent should be considered, as should the need for the continuation of a stable home environment. If there are cultural or religious considerations, those should also play a role in the decision.

Courts will try to draft a custody arrangement that works in the best interest of your child, but if you and your spouse can come up with an agreeable plan yourselves, that can take much of the guesswork and concern out of your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Rights During Separation," Christopher Coble, Esq., accessed Oct. 07, 2016

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