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
- New Jersey Child Born out of Wedlock and a Father’s RightsChildren born out of wedlock are, without a doubt, taken care of by their mother unless the mother names their father or the father himself files a petition in the court for the same.
- Effect Of Remarriage on Child Support in MarylandAll parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, even if those children are not in their physical custody. When a parent remarries, this often comes with financial consequences. For example, if a single, non-custodial father remarries and has another child, this could justify a modification of the child support order regarding a child from a previous marriage.
- Can Anti-Depressants affect Custody in a NJ Divorce?It was only a few decades ago that a minor most likely remained with their mother following the separation and divorce of their parents, with the father restricted to mostly visitations.
- Managing New Jersey Parenting Time During a DivorceThe divorce process is difficult for all parties involved, including children. It is important that all parties are able to be civil and show a united from in front of children in order to make the divorce process as smooth and stable as possible.
- What to Look for in a Strong Family Law Expert WitnessFamily law requires knowledge of a broad spectrum of subjects such as divorce, child custody and even separation. An expert in these matters is able to provide help in various functions of family law within the legal realm. If a child is in the middle of a custody battle, a family law expert witness may provide the insight into the matter that the judge may not have considered or known previously.
- Divorce after 50Many couples over the age of 50 have growing concerns about divorce, both in terms of its prevalence in their lives among friends and family, as well as how to go through the process themselves. Divorce rates among couples over 50 have doubled over the past 25 years, and for couples over 65, rates have tripled.
- Special Needs Children And DivorceThe end of a marriage is exhausting and often requires considerable effort and planning to make sure a desirable outcome is achieved. This is even more true when custody issues must be resolved. If the child has special needs, the necessary planning for custody and child support can be more complex.
- Difference between Legal and Physical CustodyA parent is said to have physical custody when he or she has actual, physical custody of marital children on a day-to-day basis. In other words, the child and parent live together.
- Relocation and Child CustodyToday’s fluctuating job market ensures that people will move multiple times in their lives, but what happens when a couple is divorced with children and one parent wants or needs to move away from Maryland? These cases are complex and every case will have its own set of unique circumstances.
- Potential Child Custody Issues for Unmarried FathersIn New Jersey, unmarried parents have the same custody rights that married parents do. Child support, custody, and visitation are handled in the same manner that they are for married and divorcing parents. Despite this, there are certain challenges that can arise for parents seeking these rights, particularly fathers who are trying to gain custody rights.
- 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.