Understanding Child Custody Laws
Child custody refers to the legal care and maintenance of a child to one or both of the parents. Child custody is often a battle for many families going through divorce. In many cases, the parent who should be awarded full custody of the child is obvious, while in other cases it is not.
Child custody laws differ from state to state. Depending on the state where the custody case is taking place, the courts may use different factors to determine which parent is awarded custody. Although there are minor differences in custody state laws, all states utilize the same general criteria when determining custody.
It is important to remember however, that there are many forms of custody that both parents can have and share, ultimately maintaining a steady and positive relationship between the parents and children.
The best solutions are when the parents can come to a mutual agreement regarding custody, but this is not always the case. When a child custody case is determined by a judge, some of the most common factors that are considered are the age, gender and health of the child. A judge will also look at the dynamics of the relationships between the child and his or her parents, as well as the child’s preferences.
The current lifestyle of the child will be analyzed to ensure that the child is being provided for. Finally, a judge will look at the financial stability of the parents. Ultimately, the courts will consider what is in the best interest of the child when determining custody.
Generally, the only time a parent will not be granted custody is when they have been shown to be unfit or harmful to the wellbeing of the child. This includes factors such as drug or alcohol abuse or a history of physical or sexual abuse.
The differences between child custody laws are often reflected in paying child support or determining visitation rights by grandparents and extended family. States vary on the income models that are used for paying child support. Generally, the parent living without the child will pay child support, but both parents can pay if they equally spend time with the child. When grandparents are seeking visitation rights, all states allow the grandparents to request visitation, yet it is not automatically given. Extended family members on the other hand, can only request visitation rights in certain states.
To get the right answers, locate a lawyer in your state that can help answer any questions you may have regarding child custody laws in your state.