The Court Determines Child Custody
A child custody proceeding is any case involving
child protection, adoption, guardianship, termination of parental
rights or voluntary placement of your child.
The support order will be based on the child's
needs, obligor's ability to pay, custody arrangements and the child
support guidelines. The Criminal Code makes it an offence to abduct a
child to spite a custody order. A custody order establishes both the
custody and parenting time arrangement for the children. Your child
custody order is also confidential.
When an unmarried mother has a child, the mother
has legal custody of that child until a court says otherwise.
During divorce, marriage, or annulment
proceedings, the issue of child custody often becomes a matter for the
court to determine. The Court must consider the following factors in
every child custody decision under the law regarding the best interest
of the child. The court retains the power to alter the custody
arrangements until the child turns 18 or is emancipated.
You may contest custody, child support, and
alimony and property division by appearing in court and filing
appropriate legal papers. At the hearing, the court shall hear evidence
to determine whether the child custody and support determination should
be modified. The fact that one parent has been the child's primary
caretaker is often considered but is not enough to guarantee a custody
award. It is not that unusual for middle class parents to spend $60,000
on a divorce and child custody fight. Traditionally, divorce in the
United States results in one parent being awarded primary custody and
decision making for a child.
Each parent shares the rights and responsibility
for the care, custody, companionship, and support of their children.
Some states, such as Arizona, have fathers rights groups specifically
dedicated to helping fathers obtain custody of their children
(arizonafathersrights.com for example).
Custody means that a parent has legal custodial
rights and responsibilities toward the child.
Joint child custody means that both parents have
the legal custodial rights and responsibilities toward a child. Joint
custody allows both parents to have a say in the child's upbringing.
There is no evidence to support that a presumption of joint custody is
in the best interests of children. A study found that only when parents
were still actively fighting did joint custody exacerbate children's
feelings of being torn between parents. However, when both parents
favor joint custody, it can be a good solution for the children. Some
parents have chosen a joint-custody arrangement in which the child
spends an approximately equal amount of time with both parents. Some
states award joint custody in which the judge simply divides the
child's time between the parents. Joint custody does not mean simply
alternating where the child lives from time to time. In fact, there may
be legal joint custody, but the child may live with only one parent.
Legal child custody includes the right to make
decisions about the child's education, religion, health care, and other
important concerns. A child may be placed in foster care while a
custody case is pending. Legal custody means the right to determine the
child's upbringing, including education, health care, and religious
Physical custody and residence means the routine
daily care and control and where the child lives. Physical child
custody is awarded to one parent with whom the child will live most of
the time. In most cases, both parents continue to share legal child
custody but one parent gains physical child custody. There is also a
presumption that it is in the child's best interest to be in the
custody of a parent over a non-parent.
Visitation rights allow the non-custodial parent
(the person without child custody) time to spend with their child. A
common arrangement is that one parent gets custody of the child and the
other parent is given visitation rights.
A child custody evaluation is a report written by
a neutral professional about you, the other parent, and your children.
It is usually not necessary that formal psychological tests be
administered to each parent in the context of a child-custody
evaluation. The primary purpose and focus of the custody and/or
visitation evaluation is to determine what is in the best interests of
the child. Comprehensive child custody evaluations generally require an
evaluation of all parents/guardians and children, as well as
observations of interactions between them. The children are also
evaluated in a custody/visitation evaluation.
Because of the complexity of child custody matters
and the importance of the outcome, it may be advisable to contact an
attorney. The attorney should know several child custody evaluators or
guardian ad litems that they have worked with successfully. If you
proceed with a child custody action without an attorney, you are acting
as your own attorney.
In a child custody dispute, there are rarely
winners, frequently everyone is a loser, and the biggest losers are
often the children. When women fear losing custody of children the
stress can be overwhelming. However, in many cases, women are favored
as holding custody of their children.
For more information about child custody, visit Child
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