The custody of a child is perhaps the most important part of a divorce. While most parents mutually agree to a visitation schedule, at times, things don’t run as smoothly as expected. In this article, we’ll look at several frequently asked questions regarding the custody of a child.
When a couple mutually decides to separate, the custody of their child(ren) isn’t as difficult an issue to deal with as we assume. Most attorneys and counselors draft a schedule that would ensure proper upbringing and safeguard the child’s well-being. However, parents need to do their homework; they need to understand laws that govern child custody, some of which may differ from state to state. If the couple is separating on a not-so-good note, it becomes even more vital for each parent to know the nitty-gritty of this procedure. Listed below are a few questions that parents must know the answers to, before they discuss the custody of their child(ren).
What does physical custody of a child mean?
When a parent is given the sole physical custody of a child, it means that the child will live with that parent. The other parent is given certain visitation rights, wherein s/he can meet the child for a certain amount of time, either weekly or monthly. Sometimes, both the parents are given physical custody of a child, called joint custody, wherein the child lives with both parents alternatively, for a significant amount of time.
What is legal custody?
The legal custody of a child is a type of custody that allows a parent to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, which may include schooling, religion, etc. Most courts award joint legal custody; however, in certain cases, where one parent is concluded to not seem fit of this responsibility, for whatever reason, the legal custody might be awarded to just one parent.
What are the parameters that courts and judges ponder over before giving custody and visitation rights to child?
Courts generally hand over the responsibility of a child to the parent who can take proper care of the child, provide him/her with safe living conditions, and offer a lifestyle that safeguards his/her needs. Basically, judges check for factors that can assure an emotionally stable environment to the child. Some factors may include mental and physical health of parents, their social life, earnings, quality of school education, and geographic location; the child’s preference is also taken into consideration if s/he is above 12 years of age.
Am I entitled to pay for child support even if the child is living with me?
In most cases, the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent money for child maintenance, called child support. Normally, the parent with a higher income may be liable to pay for child support. This support may or may not be supplemented with spousal support (alimony). Every state has different laws concerning child support. Since it’s a long-term, periodical payment, it is important that you consult an attorney in this case.
My ex-wife (custodial parent) is quite bitter towards me. This is affecting my relationship with my child. What should I do?
Mediation is generally the safest way to ensure the well-being of a child. Talk to her about it and resolve as many issues as possible through mediation. Some families even opt for counseling as a technique to reach to a sensible agreement. However, if your child or your relationship with him/her is being troubled due to your ex-wife’s behavior, you might want to consult an attorney.
Some Other Child Custody Questions
- What is a visitation exchange schedule and how can it be changed?
- If a child is not supported, must visitation be allowed?
- Are there any differences in the rights of father and mother?
- Can non-biological parents be allowed to have custody of the child?
- Will my smoking habit interfere with any decisions?
- Will an extramarital affair interfere with my right to child custody?
- What is 730 Evaluation?
- What is ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)?
- If I wish to represent myself in a court, what assistance facilities are available to me?
Now that you know most of the basics of child custody, you can talk to your attorney with more questions at hand. Consulting a family attorney is always essential in such matters as more than winning or losing a dispute, emotional well-being of the child(ren) is more important.