Divorce is a stressful and complicated legal process which can become even more complicated and emotionally exhausting when child custody issues are involved. Family law courts focus on children’s best interest first since they are usually the ones who suffer the most during this process.
Here are several key factors that family courts consider when hearing divorce cases which involve children in awarding custody:
- The child’s age: some judges believe that younger children (especially nursing infants) should live with their mothers.
- The child’s preference: wishes of the child are taken into consideration if he/she is old enough to express a reasonable preference.
- The mental and physical health of each parent, as well as that of the children.
- Confirmed evidence of parental drug, alcohol or sexual abuse.
- The quality of the relationship between each parent and the child-Judges will observe the parental use of excessive discipline or emotional abuse as an unfavorable factor for child custody.
- Parental attitudes to each other: the court considers the importance of each parent’s willingness to support and facilitate the children’s ongoing relationship with the other parent.
- Ability to provide a stable environment: in the majority of cases, the judge will ask parents to submit to a child custody evaluation. It is done to assess the ability of each parent to provide a stable and loving environment for the child.
- Capability to provide child’s physical needs: each parent’s capability to provide for the children’s physical needs, emotional wellness and medical care are observed by the court as an important factor in deciding child custody issues.
- Living accommodations: in some cases, the court may consider separate child room as a favorable factor for child custody.
Child custody laws differ from state to state. For instance, some states require unmarried mothers to file for child custody, while other ones automatically transfer the custody to unmarried mothers. In California, the most common child custody type is the joint custody, as it is believed to be in the best interests of the child. Generally, there are four applicable types of child custody: legal, physical, sole and joint custody.
Legal Child Custody
A parent with legal custody has the legal authority to make decisions relating to the needs of the child. This means that the parent has the right to make decisions about the child’s education, health care, religion and other upbringing matters without consulting the other parent. In most states, joint legal custody is awarded so that both parents can retain their legal rights and make joint decisions about the child’s upbringing. If one parent in joint legal custody hinders the other one from making decisions, the parent is free to go back to court and try to get sole legal custody of your child.
Physical Child Custody
A parent with physical custody rights is the one with whom the child lives. While the other non-custodial parent has only “visitation” rights. Recently, awarding joint physical custody is a common practice in many states. Joint physical custody makes it possible for a child to stay with both parents for certain periods of time.
Sole Child Custody
Judges award sole child custody to a parent when the other one is unable to take care of the child. The factors disabling a parent to have the child’s custody are financial instability, health and mental problems, drug and alcohol addiction, etc. Still, there is a recent trend allowing the noncustodial parent to visit the child even in sole custody cases. Sometimes a partner argues for sole custody merely for hurting the ex-spouse. It goes without saying that using your child as a bargaining chip to hurt your ex will most likely hurt the child in the end.
Joint Child Custody
As the name suggests itself, joint custody is awarded to both parents. They both hold joint legal and physical custody rights. This means that both parents equally participate in making decisions about the child’s upbringing, education, healthcare and welfare. The key advantage of the joint child custody is that it gives the child an opportunity to remain in contact with both parents equally.
No matter whether your divorce is a peaceful process or a fierce battle, it is always painful and harming. The most emotionally difficult part of a divorce is figuring who gets the child custody and making all the arrangements. As child custody cases involve many complex issues, an experienced child custody lawyer will help you defend your rights in a custody battle. The skilled and professional child custody lawyers at the Margarian Law Firm have successfully handled thousands of custody cases. They will use their experience to help you take control of your situation and start a new happy life with your children.