What is Child Custody?

Usually, after spouses decide they want to terminate their union legally, they must think about the fruit of the union, their children. The court, which is the place for ending such union that has been legally bound, will decide who and how the custody of the little ones will be shared between the two parents. With that being said, we recommend looking into a family law attorney to make sure you have a good chance at your case. 

To begin with, there are two components of custody. They are the legal components and physical components. And these aren’t the same; the court has to take a different approach to solve either of the two. Also, the court is responsible for deciding whether one of the parents will have custody of the child or both parents would share joint custody. Here’s where you need to forget the archaic thoughts and beliefs. 

The mother is not the only one who has the right to the custody of the child and the courts do not presume such an idea anymore. The most important thing to a court is the child’s best interest and it goes that this is the first thing it considers before a decision is made. The court considers the two parents in terms of their mental and physical health, using it as a criterion for choosing where the child could get the best treatment for overall well being. The court weighs the options and usually, attorneys might come in to present each of the parents as the better option for the child. The court considers the ability to give the child his or her basic needs, the emotional relationship a parent has with the child, the parent’s lifestyle, the situation of education of such child, and the child’s preference between the two parents if the child is old enough to make such rational choice.

Legal and Physical Custody

When a parent has been given the physical custody of a child, it means the child will be living with that parent. This type of custody can be joint or sole; joint custody being determined by factors such as the time the child will spend living with each parent, the distance between the two parents’ locations. It’s possible that one of the parents has physical custody of the child, but in that case, the other parent will be given visitation rights to the child.

Overall, a parent with physical custody of a child has the right and it is his or her duty to determine how the child is raised. All critical decisions about raising the child belong to that parent. In most cases, this is jointly given to both parents, giving the two parents the chance to have an impact on the child’s education, medical treatment, and the child’s education. If a parent violates a court order relating to joint physical custody of a child, he or she may have to face legal consequences for such. One of the parents, the one whose right of legal custody is deprived, can take the other party to court, asking the court to enforce the rearrangement or remodification of the custody. The process is not difficult or costly to determine, but it disrupts all members of the family, with children being the worst victim most times.

Although courts have civilized from awarding sole custody and prefer joint custody, this does not mean it will not grant sole custody in certain situations, especially in the best interest of the child. As an example, if one of the parents has been proven to have abused the child or mistreated him or her in some way, that parent may be deprived of custody. Also, if a court finds out about one of the parent’s history of alcohol or drug use, it may grant the second parent the sole custody of the child. This seems to be mostly in the best interest of the child. This doesn’t cut the other parent out totally. Many times, the other parent could have a say in decisions about raising the child.

What Should you Expect From a Joint Custody Arrangement?

Since the courts have moved away from granting sole custody, more often, it is imperative to understand what to expect from joint custody, especially as it is the likeliest decision to be granted by a court these days. 

After a court has decided to divide the custody between the two parents, the two will need to create a kind of schedule that splits the child’s time among them. Perhaps it is difficult for them to come to a conclusion; the court usually steps in and imposes one schedule for them. A typical schedule is an easy arrangement of months or weeks, alternating the child’s stay at either of the parents’. The child will spend weekdays with one parent and the weekends at the other.

There are many advantages to joint custody. The roles of each parent are clear and monumental if each plays their part. When there is joint custody, it means the child can still enjoy the parents’ responsibilities, one parent at a time. Both parents will have the opportunity to see child development, experiencing the key moments in the child’s life as he or she becomes an adult. 

However, joint custody can be stressful for parents. Traveling regularly to different residences can be expensive and complex logically. But the parents know it is better to watch their children grow than to lose contact with them completely or being in contact with their ex-partners who they want to break ties with.

In many cases, a parent will prove that the second is not meeting his or her responsibilities in the joint custody agreement, saying they aren’t contributing their part of the cost and process of raising the child. In order to prevent such problems, it is advisable for each parent to keep the financial records of their expenses in raising the child. This can cover simple needs like clothing, food and medical care, schooling and even leisure activities. Like in many areas of family law, prevention is always the best step rather than cure.

Religious Affiliation and Child Custody

Another hot argument usually arises when the parents are of different religions or faith. It is usually common for each parent to want their offspring to share the same faith as them. This situation is one of the most difficult for the court to resolve. 

Sadly, no specific rule applies to this kind of situation. Therefore, the solutions have come in diverse forms. The first amendment rights allow each parent to exercise their religion and to raise their child in the same way. This right can only be nullified from a parent if there is evidence that the child could be harmed as a result of the religion a parent is practicing. In some states, both parents are allowed to train their children in both religions. For sole custody, the parent with custody has the exclusive control to determine what religion the child is trained.