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
- What Is New Jersey’s Emancipation Law?The Emancipation of a child is when they no longer have support and control from either of their parents.
- Disestablishment of Paternity: Reasons a Petition May Be Denied under Florida Family LawDisestablishment of paternity is a process that usually begins when the legal father of a child, who is paying child support, learns new information relating to the paternity of the child.
- Prenuptial Agreements: Gaining a Financial Picture Before MarriageEveryone has their own financial personality. Your spending and saving habits may differ greatly from friends and family. According to a 2011 study from Utah State University, married couples who disagree about money issues once a week are twice as likely to divorce than couples who have money conflicts less than once a month.
- Signs that Your Spouse May Be Hiding Property and AssetsSome spouses may be tempted to hide assets during a divorce, so it is important for people to be aware of the warning signs.
- Why Do I Need a QDRO in a Divorce?Protecting retirement assets from unnecessary loss during a divorce may require the use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
- Collaborative Law Offers a New, Amicable Way to Divorce in TexasThe ways Americans can get divorced have increased nowadays. No longer is the norm a knock-down court battle, which in contentious divorces can leave the ex-spouses and their children distressed. An option now available is the collaborative law model.
- New Jersey Parental AlienationSeparation can be extremely stressful especially when children are involved and also affected.
- How to Make a Parenting Plan in New JerseyThere are two ways to make parenting plan in New Jersey. The first is with a legal professional and the second is to make your own using online templates.
- How Child Support Is Determined in New JerseyIf you are no longer with the mother/father of your child and do not have full custody then at some point child support will need to be determined.
- Convincing the Judge You Can Get Along with the Other Parent in Custody CasesFighting for the custody of a child during or after a divorce is often a harrowing experience for both parents. Each feels he or she is responsible and caring enough for the primary or total custody.
- 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.