The three main areas of child custody that must be decided upon are:
1. Legal custody;
2. Physical custody
Legal custody refers to a parent having a voice, sharing information, and making decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. Physical custody and visitation involve which parent the child will live with on a day-to-day basis and who will be granted frequent and regular contact with the child, respectively.
Who decides custody, the parents or the court?
Courts prefer parents to work out a parenting plan and resolved legal custody, physical custody, and visitation on their own.
Unfortunately, there are situations when parents won’t or can’t agree on a co-parenting plan. Domestic violence, child abuse, and substance abuse are just a few reasons why parents end up in family court battling over custody of their children.
When parents find themselves unable to come to an agreement, a judge of a family court will make the decision on behalf of both the parents and based on what is in the best interest of the child.
What factors do the courts consider
There are many factors that courts consider when making a determination regarding physical custody of a child, including but not limited to:
- The child’s age
- The child’s relationship with each of his or her parents
- The child’s emotional, social, and educational needs
- Which parent can better administer to the child’s needs
- Which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver
- The social, emotional, and mental stability of the parents
Because of the variety of factors that the court must consider when determining who gets physical custody of a child, resolving child custody issues following a divorce or separation can be quite difficult. It is therefore recommended that you retain the services of a qualified family law attorney to assist you in proving to the court that you are best suited to receive physical custody of your children.
Custody for non parents
While custody battles most often ensue between parents who are divorcing or separating, it is also not uncommon for non parents to be involved in child custody issues. Custody battles can involve parents who were never married, a child’s grandparents, concerned relatives, and even non relatives who have a close relationship with the child. Custody issues involving non parents are most often arise in cases involving substance abuse, child abuse, child abandonment, parents with serious psychological issues, or parents who are incarcerated.
Contact an experienced family law attorney
No matter how complicated your custody situation may be, an experienced family law attorney can help. An experienced family law attorney will know exactly what needs to be done, how to proceed, and what to expect throughout the custody battle. For help with your child custody issue, contact a local family law attorney who has an in-depth understanding of the custody laws in your state.
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