Custody/Parental Responsibility

A parent’s relationship with one’s child is probably the most precious interest ever at issue in any court. Unfortunately, when parents separate, a new family life for the children has to be devised. It is a painful process for children and parents. What’s best for the children is for their parents to minimize the trauma for them. Keep the children out of the line-of-fire. Don’t use or try to influence them. Don’t permit them to be witness to hateful anger directed at their mother or father by their mother or father. Those experiences will have a lasting impact on a child. The goal is for parents to get through the difficult process, re-allocate the parenting time as best as feasible, and , most importantly, restore a loving environment for the child.

The best parenting arrangement is one which the parents agree upon. However, there frequently are times when that is not possible. In such cases, New Hampshire law ( RSA 461-A:6) gives the court the difficult job of deciding what parenting arrangement is in the child’s best interest. The facts which the court is to consider are common-sense, but the primary considerations are set out in the statute. One of them is “the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance.”

The parenting issue used to be called “custody,” but our law changed it to “parental responsibility,” a label which puts the focus on the child’s right be cared for, rather the parent’s right of possession. Under our law parental responsibility is in two forms: decision-making responsibility – parental authority in general, and residential responsibility – the physical presence of the child. The court must decide each issue. The parenting arrangement is formalized in a document called a Parenting Plan. Google “New Hampshire Family Court parenting plan” for a sample of that form.

If you have a parenting dispute, whether in married or unmarried context, you would be wise to have experienced legal counsel who knows the law, but who also has the judgment to recognize and understand the real-world considerations which make all the difference in such a dispute. Such family attorneys are available to you at Winer and Bennett, LLP., www.Winerbennett.com, (603) 673-3828.