Child Custody Law



Find a Law Firm:
► Need a Local Lawyer? Contact Us

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.

Copyright HG.org

Know Your Rights!

Articles on HG.org Related to Child Custody Law

  • In With the New; Out With the Marriage - Why the New Year is Synonymous With Divorce
    There is never a good time to get a divorce, but the three months after the holiday season divorce and family law attorneys as well as marriage and family counselors often call “Divorce Season.”
  • Men After Divorce: How to Recover
    Divorce an affect men in a unique manner. Here are some of the challenges for men who are facing divorce.
  • Jail Isn’t Always the Best Option for Those Owing Child Support
    Often times, custodial parents might agree that someone who doesn’t pay child support should be forced to deal with the potential consequences. For example, many people feel that any father who flees the country to avoid having to pay child support should wind up spending time behind bars. Sending the individual to jail might not be the smartest move for the family, which is the case in one situation recently.
  • Divorce Mediation is Another Option for Florida Divorce
    Litigating a divorce may always be an option for Florida couples, but it isn't the only option. For couples that want an alternative, there is divorce mediation or collaborative law. It isn't always necessary to make ending a marriage an adversarial process. Sometimes, couples end up better of handling matters outside the courtroom.
  • Parent Visitation Rights FAQ
    Any divorce or child custody case can be difficult. Once parental responsibility is established, having a chance to spend time with the minor children is important. Nothing can replace having a presence in the growth and development of a child’s life.
  • Who Gets the Debt: Divorce and Bankruptcy
    Divorces can be very complex, especially when there are major financial obligations, property and debts to divide. The situation can get very messy when there is a huge financial loss at stake for one or both parties. One of the biggest myths about getting divorced is that you can pass on your debt to the other party. This is simply not true. Without question, you can divorce your spouse, but what happens to those debts that you incurred while married?
  • In Divorce: Preparation Helps Lead to Settlement
    The vast majority of clients who have a family law matter would like to reach a reasonable settlement. The question is how do they get there when a case cannot settle from the very beginning. This article addresses how preparation is the best way to achieve settlement in a case that does not initially settle.
  • What is a divorce settlement hard to reach when both parties want to settle?
    Parties to a divorce almost universally want to settle their case in a general sense. However, even when both want to settle, parties often have a difficult time coming to a concrete settlement once they get into specific terms. This article addresses the problems many parties face in trying to settle a divorce.
  • What To Do As A Dad Dealing With Divorce
    Dads can end up dealing with the worst of the consequences after a divorce. Seeking the most knowledgeable Atlanta divorce lawyer to handle your case isn't just something we suggest you do - it is a necessity when planning a successful divorce.
  • 12 Mistakes That Guaranty You Will Come Up Short in Your Divorce Settlement
    If you are like most out there, you have neither planned, wanted or prepared for a divorce. Lack of information about the divorce process, combined with the emotional angst your are experiencing, could cause you to make improper decisions that can have negative repercussions for years to come.
  • 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.

Organizations Related to Child Custody Law

Publications Related to Child Custody Law