Child Custody

The Basic Facts of Child Custody Laws


Courts must intervene and implement child custody laws for parents that could not reach a prior amicable agreement regarding custody of their children after a divorce. The courts are only interested in the underlying purpose of making a decision which is to protect the best interests of the child. The best interests for any child encompass a positive and nurturing environment by ensuring that children feel secure and emotionally sound to promote healthy development through adulthood. Decision criteria will vary from state to state, but there are some general guidelines that courts will follow.

Courts will typically favor the parent that already fulfills the role as the primary caregiver, as long as the parent proves to be physically and mentally healthy within a stable home. The review of communities and schools in close proximity to each parent will be completed by the courts to analyze the need for unwanted or extreme adjustments that would add excessive stress to a child that is already facing the challenges of transition. Finally, despite their age, courts will consider the feelings and parental preferences of the child in determining a final judgment.

Common legal terms are in place to provide guidelines for child custody when a married couple separates. Parental rights are equal and both parents are deemed legal guardians with an equal amount of custody for any child produced during their marriage. Parents that are unable to work cooperatively will seek the assistance of a court to reach a legal custody agreement. Physical custody is the address or home where the child will live and legal custody, usually shared jointly, is the right to make important decisions affecting the child such as religion, education, or health concerns. Courts are generally subjective when it comes to the resolution of a child custody hearing.

Joint custody is a less attractive option to the court because it necessitates an above average amount of cooperation when the child must spend an equal amount of time with both parents. Split custody decisions are almost unheard of due to the emotional stress inflicted on the children when one or more of their siblings are assigned to live with one parent, and the remaining siblings are in custody of the other parent. The child of an unmarried couple will usually be placed in custody of the mother. Custody is contingent on the fact that the mother is healthy and stable Courts are increasingly called upon for the assistance with child custody. Laws are in place to govern custody arrangements and protect the best interests of the child.