(37 Ratings & Reviews)

Justice. One Client at a Time.


What Does Full Custody Mean? A Guide for Parents in Bismarck, ND

What Does Full Custody Mean? A Guide for Parents in Bismarck, ND

Does full custody mean your ex won’t get to see your children ever? What does full custody mean in Bismarck, ND? This guide can help answer your question.

It’s estimated that divorce affects as many as one million kids each year. While divorce can be tough on the parents, it’s often even worse for the children. This is especially true when one of the parents is neglectful or even abusive.

In these situations, it’s likely appropriate for one parent to have full custody of the child or children. But exactly what does full custody mean? And how does a judge go about making these important custody decisions?

In this guide, we’ll answer these questions so you can decide if full custody is the right type of parenting plan for your needs. 

What Are the Two Types of Child Custody in North Dakota?

There are two types of child custody in North Dakota: legal custody and physical custody. However, according to state law, these go by different names.

Legal custody is referred to as decision-making responsibility, while physical custody is called residential responsibility. Legal custody means that one or both of the parents have the right to make important decisions that can affect a child’s life.

 This might include things like where they go to school, the medical care they receive, and the religious upbringing they go through. Typically a judge will prefer to split this type of legal custody since it allows both parents to be more active in a child’s life.

However, in some cases, the sole decision for these considerations will fall on a single parent. Other times, the judge might divide the parenting responsibilities.

For example, one parent might be in control of the child’s education while the other is in charge of their religion. Physical custody refers to who the child will live with. If a child spends more than 50% of their time with a parent, that parent is referred to as the custodial parent.

There are a lot of benefits that come with being the primary source of physical custody. Again, most judges will prefer to split it evenly, but this might not be possible or wise depending on circumstances. 

What Does Full Custody Mean?

As we’ll see, there are numerous types of custody arrangements out there. However, full custody tends to put all of the rights and responsibilities on a single parent.

That means that in addition to spending all of their time with the children the custodial parent will also have the right to make important decisions for the children. It’s important to note that in this type of custody arrangement, the non-custodial parent likely will still have some rights (unless they’re waived).

For example, they can still visit the children. However, they don’t have the same level of decision-making power. And since they’re not living together they won’t be able to see the children as often. 

How Do Parenting Plans Work?

Sometimes a custody arrangement has to be decided by a judge. However, most of the time it’s figured out by the parents through a parenting plan. However, parenting plans need to be very detailed.

It’s not just a matter of figuring out how parenting time will be divided. You also need to consider things like:

  • Responsibility for day-to-day decisions
  • Rules regarding telephone and internet access
  • Legal residence for enrolling in school
  • Where the child will live
  • How transportation will work for joint custody
  • Child support
  • Plans for resolving any future disputes regarding parenting decisions
  • How to change the parenting plan in the future if the need arises

We recommend working with a professional to craft a detailed parenting plan. That way you don’t get bogged down in the courts over confusion or miscommunication over vague language.  

How Does a Judge Make Custody Decisions?

How a judge makes a decision will depend on how the parents establish custody in the state. For example, if they file a complete agreement together with uncontested parental responsibilities, all the judge needs to do is approve it. 

That being said, if one parent files on their own with contested responsibilities the judge will likely need to make the final call regarding custody.

Before doing this in court the couple should first try to seek mediation. While this might not always be appropriate (in the case of abusive parents) it’s typically preferable.

If mediation doesn’t go anywhere the judge will look at relevant factors. Some of these might include emotional ties, income, the children’s preferences, home environment, emotional and physical health, and more.

 Keep in mind that with contested custody arrangements a stranger will need to decide what’s best for your child.

They won’t know all the details surrounding your relationship outside of the evidence presented when issuing a custody order.  

Should You Contact a Child Custody Lawyer?

Sometimes it might make sense to contact a child custody lawyer right away. This is the case when there’s an emergency like an abusive parent in the household. However, other times it can be difficult to know.

 This tends to happen when both parents are on roughly the same page regarding a specific parenting plan. However, even in these situations it still makes sense to consult with one of these legal professionals. 

For starters, they can make sure that all the paperwork you need to file is done correctly. What’s more, they can also check to see if there are any potential blindspots.

Remember that a verbal agreement isn’t the same thing as a written parenting agreement. So you want to make sure that everything lines up to your expectations. If you want full custody but the other parent prefers joint you will need a custody lawyer. 

That’s because you’ll need to prove why that parent is unfit for a joint custody arrangement. Check out this guide to learn what to expect when you meet with a custody lawyer. 

Need Legal Advice or Help? Contact Heartland Law Office

We hope this guide helped you answer the question, What does full custody mean? Since full custody does tend to significantly exclude one parent from the children’s lives, it isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.

Here at Heartland Law Office, we use our wide range of experience to come up with parenting plan solutions for people going through divorces. 

What’s more, we offer virtual consultations so you don’t need to travel. So if you’re ready for the help you need, schedule your consultation today.