If both parents cannot agree on child custody or visitation arrangements in a divorce case, the court will make the final decision. Custody can be granted to one parent, both parents, or someone else altogether, depending on the best interests of the child. The court will consider the health, safety and welfare of the children, including any abusive behavior in the home. A judge can take into consideration the wishes of the child if the child is old enough to make rational decisions, but the judge is not required to enforce those wishes.
Most court-ordered custody arrangements are based on various factors in the household and how they affect the children. One /article/divorcing”>divorcing parent might be awarded sole physical custody and the other granted visitation only. If there is any evidence of abuse or threat to the children present, the offending spouse will likely not be granted any visitation rights at all. Grandparents and other relatives can be granted custody if it is found that parental custody would be harmful to the children.
It is possible for changes to be made to the custody arrangement after the orders have already been established, but only by the court with jurisdiction. If circumstances in the home change, the court can modify or rewrite the custody orders if shown sufficient cause. If both parents mutually agree on a custody modification, the /article/divorce-court”>divorce court can modify the orders without a hearing in some cases.
Types of Child Custody
- Physical Custody means a parent has a child living with them by court order.
- Legal Custody is having the legal right to make decisions concerning a child’s health, education and welfare.
- Sole Custody is when one parent has been granted sole physical custody of a child and the other parent has visitation rights.
- Sole Physical Custody can be awarded if one parent is unfit due to alcohol or drug addiction or in cases of child abuse or neglect.
- Sole Legal Custody means one parent makes all the decisions. The child might live with the sole legal custody parent, while the other parent may only have visitation rights.
- Joint Custody is when parents live separately, but still share the responsibility for and custody of their children. Joint custody allows a child to spend significant amounts of time with both parents.
- Joint Physical Custody means a child will spend significant amounts of time living with each parent.
- Joint Legal Custody is when both parents share the legal responsibilities for the children. Even though one parent may have physical custody, both can still share joint legal custody.