Divorce is a hard enough process in it of itself, but when there are children involved it adds an extra level of strain to go through this process. The hardest struggle with divorcing when there are children is the emotional toll the divorce will have on the family and especially the children. With all of the old memories of the family happy together embedded in the children’s mind. On top of the emotional toll, there is child custody that needs to be discussed during the divorce process. When dealing with child custody there are always a set of popular questions that are asked that most couples may not know about that affect child custody. In this part, we explain five popular questions asked about child custody.
What Factors Does A Court Consider When Determining Child Custody?
When a divorce includes child custody, courts make decisions based on what is in the child’s best interest. When determining the “best interests,” courts go through a series of factors such as:
- The strength of each parent-child relationship.
- The emotional and developmental needs of the child.
- The age and health of the child and parents.
- The stability of each parents home environment.
- The child’s connection to his or her community and current school.
- Each parent’s ability and willingness to care for the child’s physical and emotional needs.
- Whether the parents are willing to cooperate and co-parent.
- Any evidence of child abuse or domestic violence.
While factors differ between states, the list above is some of the factors that are thought about when determining custody. Depending on the case, a parent may be awarded sole or shared custody depending on the court’s decision. When getting a divorce and need to sort out custody of a child you may want to look at the state’s history with these cases as some states prefer joint custody while others opt for one parent to have primary custody.
What is The Difference Between Sole & Shared Custody?
When it comes to child custody the most common question asked is the difference between sole and shared custody of a child. If you are given sold, of full, custody of a child you have both physical and legal custody of the child. This means that your child will live with you and you are solely responsible for making parenting decisions. While one spouse has full custody of the child, the other spouse still must provide the child with financial support and visitation rights will be set up for this parent. However, depending on the case, visitation may be optional.
If you are awarded shared custody, then both spouses are both responsible for raising their child and while both parents of shared custody, physical custody may not be equally split. The physical aspect will be determined by the child’s best interest and where the court deems fit. An example is when one parent will have custody during the holidays while the other has custody for most of the school year.
Which Parent Is More Likely To Be Granted Sole Custody, the Father or Mother?
Nowadays, custody laws are gender neutral and do not favor any parent, unlike the old ways where the “tender year doctrine” was applied to favor mothers. In addition, it all depends on the state and their guidelines to determine which parent will be granted custody. Some states award sole custody to an unmarried mother unless paternity is established and the father requests custody. One misconception that many couples assume is that fathers think the mother will get sole custody based on the old ways courts used to run so they won’t request custody. However, this is outdated and if a father wants joint or sole custody, then they will need to petition the court to fight for your custody rights.
Who Decides Upon Visitation Schedules?
Like many other factors, visitation is dependent on each state’s set of rules when determining custody of a child during a divorce. One commonality is that most states require mediation before a custody order is given so that the parents negotiate the schedule on their own. If the parents are able to discuss this schedule on their own, they will need to submit their schedule to the court for final approval. In the case you cant’ agree on visitation, the court will issue a schedule for you and the other spouse.
Which Parent Is Granted Custody If The Couple Is Not Married & There Is No Court Order?
If you are an unmarried couple with a child, custody rights will vary depending on the state in which you reside. Some states award sole legal and physical custody to an unmarried mother unless the father asserts paternity and demands custody. Others have a “putative father registry” that notify fathers of legal proceedings that involve their child. An example of this is if there is an adoption.
If you are an unmarried father, you have the right to assert your paternity, in which you will need to submit a DNA test to the court to prove paternity. After this is submitted and the paternity is established, the custody will be based on the child’s best interests.
Stay tuned for part 2 next month as we discuss 5 additional common questions asked during the child custody negotiations of a divorce. If you are in need of an attorney for child custody, contact us today!