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.
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Articles on HG.org Related to Child Custody Law
- Fathers’ Rights in New JerseyWhen children are involved in a divorce, emotions can often turn an already stressful situation into an unbearable one, especially when both parents want to spend equal time with their children following the divorce. The decision of who will get primary physical custody of the children and which parent receives visitation rights is no longer automatic.
- Importance of Prenuptial Agreements in High Stakes DivorcesWhen a high profile New York real estate mogul and his wife recently announced their divorce, the bitter battle played out in the media, becoming a real life “War of the Roses.” The marriage ended after 57 years, but the fight had just begun.
- What Are the Odds? Man Wins $80 Million While Going Through a Divorce in Michigan.An Oakland County Michigan husband won $80 Million and while the divorce case was pending, the arbitrator issued an interim order to divide the proceeds. But the arbitrator passed away before the divorce was final.
- Raising an Olympian when You Are a Divorced Parent: New Jersey Child Support GuidelinesKids involved in athletics—as well as some of their parents—might experience a burst of inspiration from the current Summer Olympics. If you are a separated or divorced parent and your child wants to step up training in their sport to reach Olympian levels, you may wonder about your financial responsibilities. Are you required to fund things like advanced training, private coaches, tournaments, and travel costs ? And is your child’s other parent obligated to share these costs?
- Summer Co-Parenting TipsIn the eyes of a child, summertime stands for fun. Swimming, sleepover camp, long days, cool evenings, and vacation plans dominate their calendars. For children of divorced or separated parents, summer can be anything but fun if effective co-parenting skills fail. Those long days can become even longer when tension and disappointment fill the air.
- How Is Child Support Calculated in Florida?Child support, either as a result of divorce or a dispute between unmarried parents, is a potentially complicated situation from the emotional, financial and family point of view. The parents and parties involved (including your Florida divorce or family attorney), must not lose sight that the goal of child support is not to resolve conflicts between the parents but to ensure the welfare of the children.
- Will My Child’s Opinion Be Considered in a Custody Case?Divorce often leads to child custody battles when both parents want the child for various reasons. These battles tend to lead to court dealings that may cause much time and money to resolve. These proceedings come about when the parents are unable to arrange times and a date to share the child or children and mediation has failed or is not considered be an option.
- Bird's Nest Arrangements Offer Big BenefitsAs families evolve and adjust to changing times, the structure of shared child custody agreements has also adapted.
- Do Siblings Have Rights for Visitation?The laws surrounding a third party requesting visitation rights with a child is constantly in flux in states across the nation.
- High-Profile Custody DisputeChild custody is often one of the most hotly contested aspects of any divorce, but contrary to common beliefs even teenaged children can become caught in the crossfire.
- 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.