Child Custody Lawyer
When a couple divorces, they have to figure out where the children will live and who will be the primary caretaker. Usually, the couple can make a decision themselves, either together or through legal assistance. If they cannot make a decision amongst themselves, then the court must step in to evaluate the situation and make an arrangement. The court will always act in the best interest of the children, of course.
Two Types of Custody
Physical custody is commonly awarded to a parent where the child will live predominantly. Both parents can have legal custody over the child, meaning that they make decisions together about the welfare of their child regarding schooling, health, clothing and other major decisions. Both parents holding 50-50 physical custody is not usually possible, but they usually share legal custody unless one parent is deemed unfit.
A joint custody arrangement is when a child spends around the same amount of time with each parent. People advocate for this arrangement because it seems like it will help ease the child into the new situation. However, some argue that one parent should have custody (one stable home to spend most of the time at) with a generou visitation agreement so the noncustodial parent can participate as much as they like. Joint physical custody is extremely difficult to work out between divorced parents and it is rare that the court will allow this arrangement.
One option that is also unpopular is split custody which allows one parent to take one or more of the couple’s children and the other takes the rest. Separating siblings is not preferable, and it rarely happens.
Most states elect to give sole custody to the mother when parents are unmarried unless the father brings action for a custody arrangement. Usually, a father will not win custody over a fit mother, but if something happens to the mother than he has priority over other relatives.
What the Court Considers
The court is always trying to determine the best interests of the child. That can be difficult to determine in some cases, though the court typically examines which parent has taken on most of the responsibilities for the child’s life. If the children are old enough to tell them, the court will give them the chance to express their preference.
Though states vary on what they define as “best interest” some common factors include:
Mental and physical stability and health of parents
Religious and cultural traditions and affiliations.
Most stable home situation
Relationships with other household and family members
Consulting a Family Law Attorney
This is perhaps the most emotional portion of divorce proceedings and can get difficult as you discuss child support arrangements as well. Call today to consult with a child custody lawyer and get help figuring out a payment and visitation schedule that meets your family’s unique circumstances.