When parents divorce, the divorce decree will specify with whom the children will live (and circumstances under which the other parent will visit). Often, parents make these arrangements between themselves, either voluntarily, with the help of their lawyers or a mediator. However, when they can not make a decision, or when the parents(mothers) no single person can agree on who will have custody of your child, the court may intervene and make a decision based on the well-being of the child.
Physical custody and legal
In most situations, physical custody is granted to father(mother) with whom the child lives most of the time. However, often the custodial parent shares “legal custody” of the child with the parent who does not have custody. The “legal custody” involves the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religion, medical care, and other important aspects.
Some parents choose to make an agreement of joint custody in which the child spends approximately the same amount of time with both parents. The authors of this agreement say that it reduces the feeling of loss that a child can experience in a divorce. Critics, however, say that it is better for the child to have a home base, and allowing the parent without custody to visit freely to their child(ren). Because joint custody requires a high degree of cooperation between the parents, courts are reluctant to apply for joint custody, unless both parents agree, they can demonstrate the ability to make joint decisions and cooperate for the well-being of the child.
Another option, although much less favored, is split custody, in which one parent has custody of one or more children, and the other parent has custody of the other(s). However, generally the courts prefer not to separate siblings when issuing custody orders.
Parents (mothers) singles
When the child’s parents are not married, the rules in most states require that you grant the mother physical custody of the child, unless the parent act so that he may grant him the custody. Often, a single father can not win custody to a mother, but generally, you will have priority over other relatives, foster parents, or prospective adoptive parents.
Custody decisions: factors to consider
When deciding who will have custody the courts consider several factors. The consideration prevailing is always in favor of the interests of the minor, though that may be difficult to determine. Often, the main factor is to know which parent has care “primarily” at the least (more on this below). If the children are old enough, the courts will take into account its opinion when deciding custody.
Although the standard “on behalf of the minor” varies from state to state, some aspects used by the states individually are common, including:
- The wishes of the child (if old enough to express their preference in a reasonable manner);
- Mental and physical health of the parents;
- Religion and/or cultural considerations;
- Need to continue in a stable home;
- Support and opportunity to interact with the family members of each parent;
- Interaction and relationships with the other inhabitants of the household;
- Adaptation to the school and surrounding community;
- Age and sex of the child;
- Use of excessive discipline or emotional abuse by the parents; and
- Evidence of the use of drugs, alcoholism, or sexual abuse by parents.
Determining the child’s guardian
In addition to the factors listed above, the courts of the family in some states prefer to opt for the parent who demonstrates that he or she was the one who took care primarily of the minor during the course of the marriage. In custody cases, the “guardian” took on relevance when psychologists began to note the importance of the link between a child and its primary caretaker. This emotional bond is considered to be important to the child during their developmental stages, and psychologists recommend that a continuing relationship between the child and his primary caretaker after a divorce; because that is vital to the psychological stability of the child.
When determining which parent will be the guardian, the courts focus on the direct responsibilities of a primary caretaker, for example:
- Bathe, dress and fix the minor;
- Plan and prepare food;
- Buy clothing and wash clothing;
- Take care of the health of the child;
- Participate in the parenting and in the extracurricular activities of the child; and
- To teach skills of reading, writing and mathematics.
Depending on the state where a determination of custody, there are other factors that may be considered important in determining the guardian. Even events such as exposure to cigarette smoke, or volunteering in the child’s school, are considered important to the analysis of the guardian parent. While in the past the preference of the guardian parent is granted to mothers, as more and more men share the responsibilities of the children, this preference no longer favors necessarily mothers. When it is clear that both parents have shared responsibility for the children the same, the cuts will be based on the standard of the “best interest” to determine the custody of the child.