Child Custody

How important it and what to be aware of

Child custody is the legal establishment of the guardianship of a child or minor. If someone has custody of a child, it is their obligation to care for and make decisions for them. Child custody is one of the most important issues established during a divorce proceeding or in situations where a child is born to non-married parents. Child custody consists of legal and physical custody. The first refers to providing care and housing for the child while the later concerns decisions surrounding the child’s well being as well as access to any medical, aeducational or legal records that may belong to the child.

There are two basic forms of child custody: sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody indicates that one parent has legal and physical custody of a child. The other parent may be granted visitation privileges but cannot make decisions about the child’s welfare. Joint custody refers to an arranged situation wear both parents have physical and/or legal custody of a child. A schedule of living arrangement is usually agreed upon by both parties and approved by the courts. In regards to joint custody, situations are often unique. A parent may forfeit physical custody of a child but still hold legal custody rights in regards to decisions that are made about the child’s welfare. Municipalities have varying laws as to how custody is established and implemented.

If child custody cannot be agreed upon by the parents, it is up to a court to rule on which parent will have custody. Courts do this by choosing which parent appears to have the best interest of the child in consideration. More often than not, women are usually granted primary custody over men but this trend has endured a shift over the past few years. As gender roles have changed recently, more men have been granted custody than in the past. When determining the best interests of the child, courts take into consideration a bevy of factors including living conditions, financial income, past history of drug/alcohol abuse or mental illness and, in some cases, recommendations from psychological evaluations.

Establishing child custody can be a difficult undertaking if one of the parents (or guardians) is not agreeable. This can inflict an enormous emotional burden on to the child. The main function of the courts, in this instance, is to make this difficult transition as easy as possible for the child in question.

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