Do you need a Rhode Island child custody lawyer?

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Child custody cases in Rhode Island are often the most complicated, emotionally intricate and difficult type of family law. Whether as a result of a divorce, change of life circumstance or something more complex, child custody arrangements protect not only your rights, but the rights of the child.  With so much at stake, you need an experienced and top rated Rhode Island child custody attorney to help you through the family court process and achieve the best results under the circumstances.

At Braatz Family Law, our Rhode Island family attorneys have helped thousands of families navigate the issue custody. From amicable agreements in divorce cases, to emergency orders in abuse cases, we handle all aspects of Rhode Island child custody law.

We approach RI child custody cases in family court with the utmost care and sensitivity, working to ensure the best outcome for the child. Our experienced child custody attorneys’ goals are to create a path for families and children to thrive and help our Rhode Island child custody clients achieve the best possible outcome.

How Is Child Custody Decided in Rhode Island?

When it comes to child custody cases, Rhode Island courts will always choose what they believe is in the best interest of the minor child or children. A judge will always attempt to avoid any change for the child, mainly because change can be traumatizing. Although this is usually status quo in Rhode Island, there are situations where the court can reconsider. 

In the case where the parents have been separated prior to filing for divorce, then again the judge will avoid forcing any change upon the children and will look to continue the current arrangement. However, there are factors in a custody dispute that may change this that would take place at the custody hearing. 

Factors that Influence How Custody is Decided in Rhode Island

Here are a few of the factors that will determine how the court approaches custody in any case. Judges will always prioritize the best interest of the child and will consider the following:

  1. Pre-existing child custody arrangements (or the parenting plan prior to a judges decision)
  2. Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  3. The amount of time each parent currently spends with the child
  4. Criminal history of each parent including domestic violence or substance abuse infractions
  5. The preference of the child if the child is of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference
  6. The physical and mental health of the child as well as each of the parents
  7. The stability of the child’s home environment
  8. The moral fitness of each parent
  9. Prior misses child support payments
  10. A willingness of each parent to foster a meaningful relationship with the other parent

There are many legal rights you have during the process of child custody and navigating them on your own can be very difficult. Especially if you have a very complex child custody case, with our legal advice we can help you through this challenging part of your life. Our law firm and experienced child custody attorneys have built a reputation and top-notch legal counsel to deliver a best-in-class representation and look forward to working with you. Don’t battle this on your own.

Here are a few of the most common questions your attorney can give you legally once you have retained them: 

Q: I want to modify my child custody agreement, do I have a case to do this and what are the next steps?

A: There are many factors that go into custody agreements including prior orders, age of the child, safety of the child, wishes of the child if they are over 14, living arrangements and prior or new criminal charges against one or both of the parents. An Attorney can review the specifics of your case and can give legal advice on modifications and changes. 

Do you need a Rhode Island child custody lawyer?

Contact us for a free consultation.

Q: My child’s other parent is not fit for visitation at this time, what are my options?

A: If your child is in danger because of the actions of the other parent, your attorney can file an emergency motion with the court to temporarily change the terms of your custody agreement until the matter can be heard in full at a later date. Emergency orders are typically heard on the same day that they are filed and go into effect immediately. Some instances where an emergency order may need to be filed to modify custody are if the other parent fails a court ordered drug screen, is involved in a violent domestic incident, is medically compromised and cannot make decisions or the other parent is put in jail. It is important to know that the threshold for being a fit parent does not take into account small parenting, rather the safety and wellbeing of the child. 

Q: I have concerns about abuse happening at my child’s other parent’s house, what do I do to protect them?

A: Similar to being unfit for visitation, your attorney can file an emergency order to temporarily modify custody while an investigation is being conducted either by the policy of DCYF. It is important that you factually communicate and share all evidence of this abuse with counsel so that they can help ensure the safety of the child and help you report this incident to the proper authorities. It may be necessary for a medical exam and an evaluation with a therapist also be conducted. 

Q: I have a child custody agreement that is not being followed by the other party, how do I get the courts to enforce it?

A: If your child’s other parent is not following the child custody agreement, your attorney can file a motion to find them in contempt of court. After a review of your agreement and the ways in which it is being violated, your attorney can file a Motion to Adjudge in Contempt which outlines the ways in which it deviates from the ordered agreement. This will be heard by a judge and ruled on based on the evidence presented. It is important to keep a log with dates, times and details about how the agreement is being violated. While it can sometimes be challenging to work with your child’s other parent, one of instances or emergencies do not typically constitute a violation.

Q: I am considering an out of state move, but have a shared custody agreement in Rhode Island, what are my options?

A: Out of state moves with shared custody arrangements are very complex. While it is not impossible, it is not as simple as filling out a form. One of the key factors is whether your child’s other parent is in agreement about the move, or whether it will be contested. For border states like Massachusetts and Connecticut, it will matter whether it means a change of school district and whether it would impact your ability to keep your current visitation schedule. It is imperative that you wait until after you have permission from the court to move your children out of state. 

Q: My child’s other parent keeps threatening to take them away, can they do that? What are my rights?

A: If you currently have a child custody agreement, your child’s other parent would need to file to modify the agreement and present evidence that you are unfit to have visitation with your children. If this type of threat is used in anger and you have not engaged in any behavior that endangers your children, your attorney will work to defend your right and keep your visitation agreement in place. If you do not have a visitation agreement and you fear your child’s other parent will start withholding parenting time with your children, your attorney can help you establish a visitation agreement that is legally binding and protects your parenting time. 

Q: What are different types of custody?

A: The main types of custody are Legal and Physical or, a variation on one or the other.

    • Legal: Legal Custody means that you are responsible for important decisions in your child’s life. These examples include, where they go to school, what religious instruction they receive, whether they need academic tutoring or psychological counseling, and when they go to the doctor. The majority of states usually rule for both parents to have legal custody and work together on these important decisions. 
    • Physical: Physical custody means where the child lives. There are many different cases of physical custody. In many cases, this is joint between the parents. But it can be sole. 
      • In either of the cases above, they can be either sole, meaning one parent or joint as in both parents. 

Q: What are visitation rights?

A: Visitation rights are limitations or restrictions on child custody. When a couple divorces, they may either have shared custodyjoint custodysplit custody, or one parent can have sole custody. When sole custody is granted by the court to one of the parents they become the custodial parent. The other parent becomes the non-custodial parent and they maintain the right to see and visit the child, absent extraordinary circumstances—this is what is called “visitation rights.” It is a right given by the court to the non-custody parent allowing them to see their children after they lose custody in a divorce dispute. 

Q: How does joint custody work?

A:  Joint custody means that both parents have frequent contact with their children and have an equal say in the child’s upbringing. However, a joint physical custody award doesn’t mean that the parents have exactly equal time with their child.

Q: Can a father keep the child away from the mother?

A: In either scenario, the usual answer is no. There are exceptions though in the case where the child could be in emotional or physical danger.