Child Custody Law
What is Child Custody law? This subset of law also often overlaps with facets of divorce law. Child custody refers to the legal obligation and right a parent or guardian has to care for, make decisions for, supervise, educate and control a minor child for whom he/she is responsible. The issue of child custody may arise in any of the following situations: when a married couple with a minor child of the marriage seeks a divorce; when two unmarried parents of a minor child cannot come to an agreement about custody outside of court; when a parent or legal guardian is found to be unfit or dangerous for the child’s well-being by a court or state agency; and when either or both parents are absent or deceased. Custody is not limited to the child’s parent, but can also be awarded to other family members, to a foster parent or group home, or to other organizations or institutions.
There are two main categories for child custody, legal and physical, which are then also assigned as either sole or joint. Legal custody deals more with the rights and responsibilities of a parent as opposed to where the child resides. It allocates who can make decisions about major issues in the child’s life, such as education, medical and healthcare decisions and the child’s overall welfare. An award of joint legal custody makes it necessary for the responsible parties to communicate and work with one another to share in these decisions. Physical custody addresses where the child will reside and for how long, and who will have the day to day responsibility and right to make necessary decisions regarding the child’s daily activities and wellbeing. When joint physical custody is awarded, the child will spend time residing with both parents and/or guardians. This does not mean that the time must be divided equally; rather it might be an arrangement explicitly spelled out by the parties or based on stated guidelines and shared payment of costs for raising the child.
All states have adopted the policy that child custody arrangements and awards must be based upon the best interest of the child. Although the factors considered for determining this may vary from state to state. When the parents/guardians can get along and agree to it, the court may award joint physical and/or joint legal custody. Generally, when one parent/guardian is granted sole physical custody, the other parent/guardian will be awarded visitation, which includes weekends, some holidays and vacation time and other occasions, as applicable. Courts reserve the right to modify custody arrangements when the circumstances call for it.
For more information about individual child custody laws, procedures and related topics for U.S. states, please visit our U.S. Divorce Law Center.
Know Your Rights!
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Articles on HG.org Related to Child Custody Law
- Top 5 Custody Dispute MistakesChildren are the most delicate and emotionally charged element of a divorce. As such, many couples can struggle to hash out all of the issues regarding this matter and come to a compromise through the mediation process. Leaving them with no choice but to appear in front of a judge in search of a child custody order.
- What Can I Do if My Spouse Is Not Paying Child Support?States are responsible for establishing laws surrounding the award, collection and enforcement of child support. Parents often contest child support matters, believing that the other parent is being unfair. There are several enforcement mechanisms that can be imposed when a parent does not pay child support.
- Can a Parent Have Joint Custody and Still Be Required to Pay Child Support?Courts generally treat custody decisions and child support as two completely different considerations. For this reason and others, a parent who has joint custody may still be required to pay child support.
- Children’s PassportsWho gets to hold my child’s passport when not traveling? Children’s PassportsThe Department of Homeland Security and the State Department have instituted certain policies and procedures for single parents travelling internationally with a child.
- Child Support: Financial Resources Considered IncomeWhen a couple divorces and there are children involved, determining child support is one of the most important issues that the couple must address.
- Divorce Papers Via FacebookCourts across the United States are increasingly allowing divorce papers (and other legal papers) to be served through social media sites.
- Two Types of Alimony in MarylandIn the state of Maryland, married couples have a financial responsibility to each other. The law says that one spouse has to support the other financially and vice versa.
- Maternal Custody Laws in New JerseyNew Jersey has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act that was founded in 1979. The Uniform Child Custody Act helps prevent inner-state custody disputes.
- Falling on Your Sword: Better Known as the Uncontested DivorceWhen things go bad in a marriage and divorce seems to be the only option, many people want to make it happen as fast as possible. In the heat of the moment they agree to things that may not be fair to them or demand unfair concessions from their partner. The future, with all of it's possibilities and uncertainty, is not thought of in the rush to push the divorce through as quickly and cheaply as possible as an uncontested divorce.
- How a Private Investigator Can Prove Infidelity in a Divorce CaseIf a spouse suspects his or her partner of cheating, a private investigator may be hired to help confirm this information.
- All Family Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Family Law including: adoption, alimony, child support and custody, child visitation, collaborative law, divorce, domestic violence, elder law, juvenile crime, juvenile law, juvenile probation, paternity, pre-nuptial agreement, separation.
Child Custody Law - US
- ABA - Center on Children and the Law
- ABA - Custody Committee
The Custody Committee studies and strives for improvements in the law relating to child custody and visitation, such as development of a model joint custody statute, standards for relocating children and rights of stepparents and unwed parents.
- Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is a federal agency funding state, territory, local, and tribal organizations to provide family assistance (welfare), child support, child care, Head Start, child welfare, and other programs relating to children and families.
- Child Custody - Overview
In cases of divorce, the court of jurisdiction for the divorce proceedings also determines child custody arrangements.
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)
Full text of the UCCJEA, which limits child custody jurisdiction to one state, avoiding competing orders, and provides enforcement provisions for child custody orders.