Most people prioritize their children above all else. Though parents have lives and interests separate from their families, most of the time their children’s happiness and well-being come first. In cases of divorce or separation, this is no different.

When a couple gets divorced, they likely consider what it will mean for their children. Most of the time, it means that the children will split their time between each parent. However, this is not true in all cases. Ultimately, the decision falls to the court system. During divorce proceedings, a judge will decide what kind of child custody arrangement is most beneficial for the children.

It can be difficult to understand the Wichita, KS child custody system. There are many different arrangements and requirements that may come to light. However, knowing a bit about the general child custody system can make the entire process a bit easier, and often puts parents at ease.

Legal vs. Physical

It is important to note that there are two distinct types of custody that a parent can have. Physical custody is commonly understood, and involves guardianship. Physical custody is when a child lives with the parent either all of the time or some of the time.

Legal custody is different. This involves making big decisions about the child’s life, such as healthcare, lifestyle, religion, etc. Parents can have both legal and physical custody, one of the two, or neither.

Types of Physical Child Custody in Wichita

There are distinct types of physical child custody arrangements that you may encounter. The judge will decide which is best based on your unique circumstances.

Sole Custody

In the event of a sole custody arrangement, one parent receives all custody of the child. They are the sole guardian, and often receive full legal custody as well. They may allow the children to interact with their other parent on sporadic occasions, or even have an ongoing relationship with them. However, the custodial parent has the right to make all decisions surrounding the child’s relationship with their other parent, and the other parent has no legal right to time with their child.

Joint Custody

In situations of joint custody, the parents share physical custody of their children. The children may see one parent during the week and one on weekends. Some families decide to have the children spend a full week in one home and then a full week in another. There are many different iterations of joint custody, and the schedule is up to the parents involved. However, both parents have the legal right and responsibility to act as the guardian of their child about 50% of the time.

In these situations, the parents often share legal custody and make big decisions about the children together. However, it is possible for one parent to have sole legal custody, while both parents share physical custody.


Visitation is similar to sole custody in that one parent is responsible for providing a full-time home for their child. However, unlike sole custody, the other parent has the right to see their children during certain times. These times are strictly spelled out, and the custodial parent may not keep the child from the other parent during these times. The parent who only has visitation rights does not often have legal custody.

Usually, child custody falls into one of these categories. However, the arrangements can look different depending on the family involved.

Custody Considerations

Many parents want to know what a judge considers when granting custody. It is important to understand that the child’s well-being is the only thing that the courts care about. They will always side with the child, and be sure that the arrangement is in the child’s best interest. As you present your case in court, your attorney’s job is to convince the judge that your presence in the child’s life benefits their well-being.

In order to consider this, the judge looks at many different factors. They may assess a parent’s income, housing situation, criminal record, schedule, and even the company they keep. Courts are very thorough when assigning custody, as they want to make sure that the child will not end up in an abusive or neglectful situation.

If a parent has a busy work schedule or travels a lot, for example, full custody may not be a good idea. They may opt to give the traveling parent partial custody or visitation rights instead, so that the children have a stable home with a present parent.

Changing Child Custody Agreements

It is possible for child custody agreements to be legally altered. However, this is unlikely to happen unless a family’s circumstances have significantly changed.

For example, if a judge denies one parent custody because of a history of drug abuse and unstable housing, that parent may go back to court to fight the case once their circumstances have changed. If the parent in question achieves sobriety for a significant length of time, finds secure housing, and is able to consistently pay bills, the judge may decide that partial custody or visitation rights is appropriate.

This can happen in the opposite direction as well. For example, if a parent is given joint custody but later takes a high-demand job that requires lots of travel and time away, the judge may decide that the other parent should have full custody and the traveling parent should have visitation rights only.

In order for any changes to be legally enforced, they must go through the court system. Though parents may make mutual changes, they cannot enforce those changes unless a judge has signed off on them.

Contact Stange Law

Our team here at Stange Law has been helping families with their child custody arrangements for many years. We understand the importance of having access to your children, so we fight diligently for your ability to be with them. We know how to present you in the best light so that the court sees and understands the benefits you bring to your child’s life. No other firm in Wichita, Kansas can give you better child custody representation.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation with our Wichita family law attorneys, contact us online today.