When parents get divorced, one of the most critical decisions they have to make is who will take care of their children. This decision is often referred to as child custody. This article will discuss how family law determines child custody in a divorce proceeding.
The Best Interests of the Child
When making a decision about child custody, the court will always prioritize the best interests of the child. To determine what is in the best interests of the child, the court will consider a variety of factors, including:
- The child’s age
- The child’s health
- The child’s emotional and psychological needs
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs
- The stability of each home environment
- Each parent’s employment situation
- The distance between each parent’s home
The court may also consider the child’s wishes if they are old enough to express a preference in some cases.
Types of Custody
Custody can either be legal or physical.
Legal custody means the parent decides how the child is brought up, including educational, medical, and religious training decisions. Physical custody refers to where the child will live.
A parent can have sole legal and physical custody, or either type of custody can be joint. Joint legal custody means that both parents have a say in decision-making. In contrast, joint physical custody means that the child will spend significant time living with both parents.
Custody Evaluation Process
In some cases, the court may order a custody evaluation to help it decide about child custody. This evaluation is conducted by a mental health professional who will interview the child and the parents.
Sometimes this includes other people who are close to the family. These can be grandparents, teachers, or babysitters. The evaluator will then prepare a report for the court that includes recommendations about custody arrangements.
The court is not required to follow the evaluator’s recommendations. Still, it will give them significant weight in making its decision.
Once the court has decided about child custody, it will issue a custody order. This order will specify which parent has legal and physical custody of the child and can include provisions for visitation by the non-custodial parent. It can also rule for joint custody.
The number of visits by the non-custodial parent will depend on the particular custody arrangement ordered by the court. In some cases, non-custodial parents can have regular visitation with their children. In other cases, visitation may be more limited.
It is important to remember that even if you are not awarded primary custody of your children, you still have rights as a parent. You should always consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your specific situation and what options may be available.
If either parent is unhappy with the court’s decision, they can file an appeal. An appeals court will then review the case to see if any legal errors were made in the original custody order.
What Happens If One Parent Wants to Move Away with the Children?
If one parent wants to move away with the children, they must first get permission from the other parent or court. If the other parent agrees to the move, they can sign a consent order.
If the other parent does not agree to the move, then the moving parent must file a petition with the court. The court will then decide whether to allow the move or not.
The court will consider a variety of factors when making this decision, primarily the best interests of the child. In some cases, the court may also consider the wishes of the child if he or she is old enough to express a preference.
The court will then make a decision that is in the best interests of the child. If the court decides that it is in the child’s best interests to move, then the moving parent will be allowed to do so.
If you are considering moving with your children, you should always consult with an attorney experienced in family law first. They can help you understand your rights and options under the law.
How Does Child Custody Change As Children Get Older?
Child custody arrangements can change as children get older. In some cases, parents may agree to modify their custody arrangement. In other cases, one parent may file a petition with the court to modify the custody order.
The court will then decide whether to grant the request or not, based on the best interests of the child.
Know Your Parental Rights
If you are going through a divorce and have children, it is important to understand your rights and options when it comes to child custody. Speak to an experienced family lawyer in your area for more information. A lawyer experienced in family law can help you navigate the process and protect your interests.