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Find Child Custody Lawyer

Find Child Custody Lawyer

Child Custody

Child custody refers to the legal right to care for a child. Education, religious upbringing, medical care, housing and other important components of a child's life are the responsibility of the party or parties in custody. In most cases, divorced parents will claim joint custody over their child or children. However, in some situations, the court may award sole custody to either the mother or the father of the child. The court makes decisions regarding custody matters by considering “the best interest of the child.”

Let’s review some of the most important terms that may arise while dealing with child custody matters.


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Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where the child will physically live. In physical sole custody cases, the child lives with only one parent, and the other parent may have visitation rights. This may occur if one parent or the parent’s home is deemed unfit to care for the child. Those with drug or alcohol problems, for example, may create unsuitable environments for their children.

In a physical joint custody arrangement, the child typically moves back and forth from the parents’ two homes.

Legal Custody

The parent or parents with legal custody of a child are responsible for making important decisions about the child’s life. Legal custody often refers to matters regarding the child’s education, religious upbringing, medical care and psychological treatment. In contrast to physical custody, legal custody does not dictate where the child physically lives. Therefore, a parent may have a say in the life of a child even if the child is not living with that parent. 

In sole legal custody, one parent has full authority to make major decisions for the child. On the other hand, with joint legal custody, both parents have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child.

Split Custody

Split custody, which is also referred to as divided custody, is a unique arrangement in which siblings are separated and sole custody is divided between the two parents. In other words, one parent claims sole custody over one or more children while the other is awarded sole custody of the remaining children. Since the court makes custody decisions with the child’s best interest at heart, split custody is generally rare in the United States. Except in rare cases, it is not recommended to separate siblings. For instance, a split custody arrangement may be appropriate if the children are abusive towards each other and their separation is the safest option for the family.

Visitation

In situations where the court awards sole physical custody to one parent, the judge will typically award visitation rights to the other parent, who is known as the non-custodial parent. It allows children who do not live with a parent to maintain a regular relationship with them. State laws dictate when visitation is allowed and under what limitations and restrictions it may be granted. Generally speaking, there are three main types of visitation: unsupervised visitation, supervised visitation and virtual visitation.

Child Support

Child support refers to the court-ordered, periodic and ongoing payments made by a parent to financially support a child. When one parent is awarded sole custody, the non-custodial parent may be asked to pay child support. Basic living expenses such as costs for food, health care and education are usually covered by child support payments. State laws vary regarding the amount and frequency of child support payments. The payments are not tax-deductible for the paying parent. Moreover, they are not considered taxable income for the receiving parent.

Seeking Legal Support From a Child Custody Attorney

Child custody is an especially difficult and emotionally-charged topic. When it comes to the wellbeing of your child, it is important to work towards the best possible outcome. If you are in the midst of a child custody battle or have any questions regarding your rights to visitation, contact one of our top family lawyers as soon as possible.

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Child Custody Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is child custody?

Child custody is a legal area concerned with a parent’s right to control and make decisions about how their child is raised. The default state of child custody is to allow the biological parents of the child to have full custody and control of the child. However, when couples divorce or legally separate, the issues of child custody can become fraught.

Child custody includes the parent’s right to make decisions about the child’s care and upbringing. This includes topics such as where the child lives, how the child is educated, what kind of healthcare a child receives, and any religious practices a child may obey. When custody is contested or shared, the legal system steps in to adjudicate what decisions each parent can make about their child.

2. How can you lose custody of a child?

There are many reasons that may cause the court to believe that you should lose custody. These reasons can be divided into administrative, behavioral, and safety categories.

Administrative reasons that custody may be taken away include disobeying court orders, subverting custody arrangements, or failing to appear before the court. Behavioral reasons for losing custody may include attempting to alienate the child from the other parent. Finally, you can lose custody if you are shown to act in ways that endanger the child such as misusing drugs or alcohol or acting in abusive ways.

3. Do you pay child support in a shared custody agreement?

Child support is generally decided on two factors: income and custody status. Even in a perfect 50/50 split of custody, if one parent has less income or no income, the other parent will likely have to pay child support in order to maintain a decent standard of living for the child.

4. How long does a child custody case take?

How long a child custody case can take to settle depends on how contentious the agreement can be. Disagreements in the custody schedule, who should receive primary custody, and how much child support should be paid can all drag out the length of time needed to ratify the agreement. Additionally, if the custody agreement needs to be settled by a mediator or adjudicated by the court, the process can stretch on for months or even years.

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