One of the main issues during a divorce is usually who the children will live with under the divorce decree. If an agreement can’t be worked out, then it’s left to the courts to decide what is in the child or children’s best interest as far which parent has custodial rights.
The types of custodial rights
There are several different types of custodial rights which can be awarded through the courts.
- Physical and legal custody: The parent who is awarded both of these has the sole right to make decisions which deal with the wellbeing of the child or children. That parent is also the person who the child or children will live with the majority of the time. If the legal custodial participation is shared between the two parents; however, the non-custodial parent too has the legal right to makes decisions about what affects the child or children’s welfare.
- Joint custody: In this arrangement, the child or children spend the same amount of time with both parents. This is worked out by the child going back and forth from one household to the other. The parents have to be in total cooperation dealing with the child’s or children’s best interests in order for this method to be successful though.
- Split custody: This option is less favored by the courts because it splits up the children where one or more children live with one parent and then the remaining child or children live with the other parent.
- Unmarried parents: Most states will award sole custodial rights of the child or children, if the parents are unmarried, to the mother. The father can sue for custodial rights, but if the mother is a good parent, it’s rare that he wins this type of suit.
What factors do the courts consider when making the custodial decisions?
The courts take many factors into consideration when making this decision. The child’s best interest is always put first. Plus one of the other main factors here is who is the child or children’s primary caretaker. Also if the child is of an age to make his or her wishes known, the court will take that into consideration.
Although some parents can settle custodial issues without an attorney, to make sure your rights as a parent are handled properly, hiring a family law attorney is really the best choice.