Following a couple’s separation proceeding or divorce, child custody is arranged to determine the hands-on and legal relationship between the children and the parent. This arrangement entails custody and visitation rights, or anything related to the control and care of the children. Other issues may also be decided, including the children’s health care, religion, and education.
Child custody has four different types:
- Joint custody is when both parents will have legal control and care of their kids.
- Shared custody refers to the setup where the children will spend a certain amount of time with each parent, and special provisions may determine child support.
- Split custody is a setup where one or more of the kids stay with each parent.
- Sole custody is when a child lives permanently with one parent, while the other may only have the access right.
In deciding on the child custody arrangement, the priority of the court is the children’s best interests. Here are the most common factors that are taken into account by the court. However, it’s still highly recommended to seek legal advice from a family lawyer or divorce attorney to understand the arrangement and proceedings better.
Age of the children
Before, the age of a child is the top factor for determining which parent they should stay with. Young children will automatically live with their mothers. However, recent court decisions ruled that both the father and the mother should be considered in determining the child’s care. It’s worth noting, though, that some courts still think that younger kids should be placed with their mothers.
Living situation of the parents
The parent’s living situation and support capabilities are always taken into account by the court when deciding on custody. Living arrangements are checked, ensuring the kids will have their own rooms, the space is well-maintained, and the neighborhood itself is safe for them. In some ways, the parent’s residential location may always be considered. Things like the proximity to essential places like schools, churches, or even other family members will be considered. Furthermore, the court will also look into which home will provide the child with better moral and spiritual training, affection and love, educational guidance, and personal fulfillment opportunities.
Physical and mental well-being of the parents
The physical and mental state of a parent is a vital factor that influences a child custody arrangement. A parent struggling with serious health conditions such as illnesses, depression, or uncontrolled anger is less likely to be granted custody rights. The court will also consider history of drug abuse and alcoholism. The other parent who is physically and mentally fit is obviously more likely to be granted custody, given that he or she is more capable of caring for and raising the kids. It’s also worth noting that both the long-term and short-term health concerns of both parents will be taken into consideration.
Relationship of the children with each parent
The court also looks into the relationship of the parents with their children. If one parent is often an absentee and the child has a stronger connection with the other, then the latter will likely be given the customer. The absentee parent will be given visitation rights and is obligated to provide child support. To better determine the level of relationship between children and parents, an experienced social worker will be used.
The Parents’ willingness to work together
In deciding on the custody and support, the court also looks into the parents’ record of cooperating. Generally, things like bad-mouthing a spouse in front of the children and getting in the way of visitations are considered. The more cooperative parent will have the edge towards the custody arrangement. The more cooperative the parents are, the wider the custody arrangements can be. In fact, some studies have found that parents who are on good terms are often granted shared custody.
Allegations of domestic violence
Another major consideration that a court will look into is whether there are any allegations of incidents of neglect and abuse. Obviously, a judge will set limitations for any parent that has neglected or abused their children. This requires clear evidence. A false report of allegations of any kind is considered a low-level misdemeanor, which comes with a criminal or civil liability.
Making decisions regarding child custody can be a complicated and exhausting process for both parents and children. Work with a reputable lawyer to create the best arrangement for you and your kids. Note that it’s always best to hire a lawyer who has extensive experience in handling similar cases to ensure proper legal assistance.