By: Koleilat Law
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Determining Factors of Child Custody
In this world we get three unique gifts that are impossible to replace, and devastating to lose. The first gift we ever receive is the gift of life itself, the second, a diamond ring forged with a promise, and finally, perhaps our greatest gift, is the life we get to create. For many, a child is the single most precious treasure they can have, and when it comes to fighting for the right to raise a child, it’s easy to get swept up in the emotional turmoil. This is why the decision on child custody in a divorce is a complex one that is more often than not left to the court to decide on. A judge takes several factors into consideration when determining which parent should be allowed to have primary custody of a child.
These factors are based around the physical and mental well being of the child, deciding which parent can best support the child’s needs, and which parent would be easier for the child to live during the transition. We will dive deeper into these factors later on in the article, for now we will go over the various forms of custody that can be issued.
Physical Custody: Physical custody deals with the living location of a child. Physical custody can be sole, primary, or joint (also known as shared). Sole physical custody means the child lives with a single parent, where Primary means the child lives with one single parent for most of the time, the other parent having limited physical custody. Many times primary custody is seen when a child lives with one parent most of the time, and spends only one weekend a month with the other parent. Joint physical custody means both parents get around the same amount of time with the child, spending months, or years living with one parent before going to live with the other. The time given to each parent is determined by factors such as work requirements, and the child’s lifestyle, including education. Sometimes the timetable is not done 50/50. In some instances a child will spend all weekdays with one parent, while spending only weekends and holidays with the other.
Legal Custody: Legal custody refers to the decision making portion of the child’s life, such as education, medical care, and other activities such as religious upbringing. Unlike physical custody, legal custody can only be sole or joint. If legal custody is shared, both parents must consult each other on major decisions involving the child. If a decision is made by one parent without the consent of the other, or one parent feels the other is noncompliant with shared custody, the couple can be brought back to court to force compliance or to try and gain sole legal custody, though it is more difficult to gain sole custody, the courts preferring shared legal custody. Two parents can half joint legal custody over a child while one parent has sole physical custody.
What form of custody, and how it is separated, is based on the factors below. They are used to help decide to make sure that the child or children are given the best possible life they can obtain, and are made by the court as a neutral party to ensure there is as little bias as possible in the decision. This sets a common ground for the decision, free from the perceptions of either parent on the decision.
Factors for Deciding Custody
- The age, sex, and condition of the child’s mental and physical condition.
- The physical and mental conditions of the parents.
- The lifestyles of the parents, including habits that the child might be exposed to such as second hand smoking and alcohol consumption.
- History of abuse, rather to a spouse, child, or other.
- The ability to raise a child, including supplying food, shelter, and medical care.
- The child’s lifestyle, and how living with a parent will impact it, (education, activities, community, etc).
- Which parent will make the child’s adaptation to the transition from married to divorce the easiest.
- If the child is above a certain age, the preference of the child can be taken into account as well.
Of course, both parents may have equal ability to raise a child following these factors, things such as the history of the parents and their future potential and plans can also be implemented into the factors. When it comes to time to decide on custody, it is important to make sure your qualifications as a capable parents are presented clearly to the court. Having a family law attorney who can access your situation and present it to a judge is key in holding your place in your child’s life.
Lauren Koleilat has spent years helping parents facing the stress and turmoil of a divorce and handling child custody cases. She can bring this experience, along with a sense of compassion and understanding to your divorce case. Contact the law offices of Koleilat & Miller today so we can get started on your case, and make sure your child doesn’t have to live without you in their lives.