Fundamentals of Child Custody
Of all the decisions that need to be made during the course of a divorce, the child custody agreement should be the most thought out portion of the proceedings. Ultimately, it is the children who are most affected by their parent’s separation and the adult’s behavior and temperament throughout the process may dictate how successful the arrangements will be for all involved. Obtain the assistance of a competent family law attorney to help you maneuver through the child custody issues associated with your divorce case.
If the parents cannot come to an agreement about custody on their own or with the help of an attorney or mediator, then the courts intervene and will decide based on the best interest of the child. The different types of custody are listed below.
Legal and Physical Custody
Typically, physical custody of the child is given to the parent whose home is where the child will spend most of their time. Shared legal custody between both parents means that the non-custodial parent is involved in making decisions for the child about their schooling, religion, health care, etc.
In order for joint custody to work, the parents need to be super cooperative and able to make decisions together working in the best interest of the child. In a joint custody situation, the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. This can be a positive or a negative for the child. On the plus side, the child may feel less of a loss because they are seeing each parent for an equal amount of time. The negative to moving between two homes is that the child lacks a sense of permanency.
This is where, if the father wants custody, he has to step up and take action. Most states where the parents are not married require custody be awarded solely to the mother if she is a good parent. An unwed father will, however, take precedence over relatives other than the mother, potential adoptive parents, or foster parents.
Deciding Factors Concerning Child Custody
Of course, the courts always wish to have the best interests of the child in mind when determining custody. This can be difficult to define. If the child is old enough, the courts will get their opinion when deciding custody. Factors that are considered when determining custody will vary from state to state, but common ones include:
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- Cultural or religious considerations
- How the child will adjust to school or community
- The sex and age of the child, and if old enough, the consideration of the child’s wishes
- Evidence of a parent using excessive amounts of discipline or emotionally abuses the child
- How the child relates with other household members
Historically, the court’s preference was to give custody primarily to the mother. With more and more fathers taking equal responsibility in parenting, the courts have to look beyond gender in making their decision and look more toward determining the best interests of the child when awarding custody. Hiring a family lawyer Collin County, TX trusts to present you in the best possible light to the court will give you the opportunity to achieve the result that is best for you and your child.
Contact Scroggins Law Group for more information about family law and the fundamentals of child custody.