Overland Park Child Custody Lawyer -Patrick Copley
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Child Custody

What types of custody orders can a judge make?

First, it's important to understand that in Kansas, there are two distinct types of custody: Legal Custody and Residential Custody.

Joint legal Custody is often preferred by the Court and implies that both parents will share in making major decisions concerning the child's upbringing. Legal custody does not pertain to the physical residence of the children.

Sole (legal) custody means that one parent makes all the major decisions regarding the child's upbringing and the child lives with that parent. The other parent may have specified visitation rights. Sole custody often occurs when one parent has decided not to be involved in the child's life, or there are other exigent circumstances that prevent them from doing so (i.e., prison, or one parent suffers from mental incapacity).

Residential custody, in contrast, refers to where, and with whom, the child resides. Although shared residential custody is becoming somewhat more common meaning the child spends equal or near equal time with both parents the usual arrangement is for the child to reside primarily with one parent (residential custodian), and to spend regular time with the other parent on weekends and overnights. The parties also mat have to address scheduled for extended summer visits and holidays (all commonly referred to as "Parenting Time").

Cautionary Note: Because shared physical custody requires parents to be extremely cooperative, and further often requires the parents live in close proximity to each other, many Judges are reluctant to order it. Thus, the easiest way to get shared residential custody is to work collaboratively with the other parent, as Judge's will frequently approve agreed shared physical custody.

What factors does a Judge look at in awarding a parent

residential custody of a child?

The trial judge has broad discretion to award custody according to the "child's best interests." In Kansas, the Court will look at the following factors, among others: (i) the child's adjustment to home, school and community; (ii) the wishes of the parents; (iii) the desires of a child of sufficient age and maturity as to the child's custody or residency (iv) which parent will be more likely to cooperate in helping the child maintain a relationship with the other parent; (v) the ability of the parties to communicate, cooperate and manage parental duties; and (vi) evidence of spousal abuse.

In Kansas, there is no presumption in favor of one parent having residential custody over the other. That is to say, neither the mother nor the father is preferred because of sex. Instead, each case is reviewed on its own facts according to child's best interests.

Cautionary Note: If the child is a teenager, the judge may be willing to consider the child's wishes as to residence and the child's reasons. There is no specific age when a child gets to decide where they live, but generally, the older the child, the more weight that child's desires are given by the court.

Can the parties agree as to the custody arrangement for their


Yes, the parties may agree on the type of custody that fits their circumstances and present their agreement to the judge for approval. Kansas law provides a presumption that a written agreement between the parties concerning custody or residency of their minor child is in the child's best interest. In many counties, mediation, a process later discussed, is utilized by the court to facilitate custody agreements. This is also why if a party is looking to have shared residential custody, the easiest way to achieve this is by working out an agreement with the other parent.


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