There was a time when divorce was all but impossible, unless one was lucky enough to receive assistance from the Pope, an unlikely prospect. Even through much of the last century, divorce was seen as shameful or tragic. Divorce has become common, which is complicated by itself. If there are children involved, the difficulties become compounded. When this process begins, many issues that have never crossed a person’s mind suddenly become urgent, matters that require knowledge of family law. Specific family law questions should of course be directed to a lawyer, but for parents initiating divorce that need some general knowledge, here are five of the more common child custody questions and their answers.
- What Factors Does the Court Take Into Account for Custody?: The guiding principle behind the court’s child custody decisions is the child’s best interest. A plethora of issues come into play with this, from the emotional and financial stability of each parent to the ability of the child in question to adjust to a change in their school and home environment. The child might also be asked to give their preference, if they are deemed old enough to understand the situation and give a legally valid opinion. A judge is not going to award custody to a parent solely based on financial issues, the parent in question would need to prove that placement is in the child’s best interest.
- Is the Mother More Likely to Be Awarded Custody?: This outdated practice, established based on a family model where the mother either did not work at all or worked far less than the father, has been abandoned in many states. Even those states that still tend to favor the mother, if father believes the child is better off with him, he can present that to the court. However, in such a circumstance, he would be well advised to at least seek out child custody legal advice or, ideally, contact a family law practice and retain an attorney.
- What Are Sole and Shared Custody?: Sole custody refers to situations where a judge awards both the physical and legal rights to a child to only one parent. This parent then had the child living with them at all times and is responsible for all medical, legal or otherwise important decisions for that child. The other parent usually has some financial responsibility in the form of child support and may have some amount of visitation. Shared custody is as it sounds, where the decisions and care are shared between parents, and sometimes a grandparent or other family member, but the ways this can occur are varied. Sometimes it is even, or it could be more than one child with the responsibility divided with some children cared for by the mother and others by the father, or any division of time the court sees fit.
The circumstances that inspire family law questions are all unique. As a result, the information covered here should be seen not as a final answer, but the basics only. For answers to family law questions about individual circumstances, always seek out the advice of family law attorneys.