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Divorce is a serious step in anyone’s life. Dissolving a partnership has legal consequences. It also has emotional consequences. For those couples with children, the path forward may be particularly hard. It’s important to understand how the decision to work with children as the divorce goes on is crucial. Both parents should understand what specific terms relating to children and divorce actually mean. One of the most important is that of the concept of custody. In the aftermath of any divorce, issues relating to custody will quickly arise. The question of caring for the needs of children may present special obstacles that must be resolved as the divorce comes to a conclusion. Parents want the best for their children. Judges want to see that the divorce does as little as possible to disrupt a child’s life. This is where all parties involved in the divorce need to come to an agreement. This agreement is typically known as a custody order.
The Question of Custody
Custody can be a confusing term that may not be immediately clear. It is important to keep in mind there are lots of types of custody and each one has a highly specific legal meaning. Simply put, the term means who gets to control and make decisions regarding the child’s circumstances. They are the people who will decide where the child goes to school, where that child lives and other issues such as how much money may be spent in caring for the child’s needs such as clothing and school supplies. The parent is also responsible for specifics such as how to respond in the event of a sudden medical issue or if the child wishes to travel to another state or another country. A person who has custody over the child is the person who is responsible for making decisions about them legally. In general, parents should be aware of two basic terms that have much to do with many custody arrangements for children in the aftermath of any divorce proceedings in the United States. These two terms are sole custody and joint custody.
Sole custody is when one person and one person only is in charge of making decisions about the child. Sole custody may take two further forms. Legal custody is when that parent is one who makes legal decisions for that child. For example, if the child is responding to an issue such as drug addiction the parent with sole legal custody is the parent who will decide how best to respond to this issue and what avenue of treatment to pursue. This is often a form of legal custody that can be carried out in the event of a problem with the other parent’s decision making or their inability to care for the child because that parent is unable to do so. The parent may have an issue such as current imprisonment or may be accused of and guilty of child abuse. In that case, the other parent will be granted sole legal custody. Another form of sole custody is what is known as sole physical custody. Sole physical custody means that this parent is in charge of the child’s physical needs. They are the only person who is responsible for keeping a roof over the child’s head and putting food in their belly. They may also be the person entrusted with providing that child with access to medical care via their work. Sole custody is one that requires the parent to step forward and assume the major responsibility for raising that child in every way.
Another form of custody is what is known as joint custody. Joint custody is becoming increasingly more popular. Many courts recognize that a child ideally needs to be around both parents as much as possible. When there’s a joint custody order, each parent has a say in the child’s life. Each parent must be consulted in the event of any kind of medical issues. This form of custody is also common when parents live near each other. A child may spend half the week at one parent’s home and the other half with the other parent.
It’s possible to have a mixture of both forms of custody. One parent may have sole legal custody. Both parents may have joint physical custody where they are each responsible for the child’s medical and physical needs. It’s best to understand such legal terms and what they mean fully.
There are many reasons that a woman might remain in a relationship that makes her unhappy. One of the most common is for the sake of the couple’s children. Women often worry about how a divorce will affect their children’s mental health. They may also be worried about the custody arrangements. All of these are valid concerns.
If your child is still toddler age, you may be even more concerned. In many families, the mother plays the biggest role in early childhood development. The father doesn’t play an active role, so they don’t know how to take care of the child. This can make it extremely anxiety-inducing for mothers to think about a joint custody arrangement.
Custody arrangements are influenced by a huge number of external factors. The chances of being obligated to uphold a joint custody arrangement vary depending on your circumstances. You should be aware of the influencing factors in your situation. You should also make peace with the potential for any outcome.
Factors Affecting Custody
Custody arrangements are some of the most varied agreements in a divorce. This is because most states don’t have in-depth specific guidelines regarding every possible circumstance. Instead, the court is tasked with just one priority: acting in the child’s best interest.
A custody arrangement should be the best possible option for the physical and mental well-being of the child. What this looks like depends on your exact situation. Judges look at many different factors to make this decision.
Even if you aren’t confident that joint custody is a beneficial option, the judge might not agree. Historically, women have been considered the “natural caretakers” of their children. As such, women have sometimes been awarded primary physical custody due purely to bias.
However, in recent years, there has been more emphasis on the obligations of both parents. Fathers have been given greater consideration. Many fathers these days are interested in taking an active role in their child’s life. You can’t expect to get sole custody based on motherhood alone. But there are larger factors that affect the decision.
The Father’s Wishes
If the father wants custody and advocates for a joint custody solution, there’s a high likelihood of the petition being granted. This is especially true if the father shows up to all custody hearings and appears concerned with their child’s best interest.
Unfortunately, many fathers simply aren’t interested in participating in their child’s upbringing. If the father of your child makes it clear that he isn’t interested in physical custody, the judge likely won’t give him physical custody.
Any parent might be unfit to raise a child, regardless of whether they’re the child’s father or mother. Women are not automatically better equipped to raise a child. Similarly, men shouldn’t be rewarded for meeting bare minimum standards of caring about their child.
The judge will consider the competency of each parent. Is the parent able to give the child everything they need? Do they have adequate, safe shelter? Will they clothe the child and make sure they’re fed? Judges will often not grant extended custody if a parent cannot meet a child’s needs.
Parents need to provide more than physical necessities, though. They should also be able to give their children adequate care and attention. Both parents can come to an agreement regarding financial support, but emotional unavailability can be permanently damaging to a child’s psychological development.
The judge will consider each parent’s ability to meet the physical and emotional needs of their child. This is often the biggest factor regarding custody arrangements.
Past History of Abuse
If your marriage has a history of abuse, this will have a huge impact on a child custody case. This is especially true if you’ve filed a restraining order against your spouse. There is almost zero chance that a documented abuser will get custody. Even if your spouse never abused the child, a judge will not place a child in a home with someone who has demonstrated abusive tendencies.
If you have reason to believe your spouse is a danger to your child, you need to gather as much proof as you can. Your lawyer will advise you about what documentation is necessary. A judge will often give both parents joint custody so the child can have a relationship with both of them. But if one parent poses a danger to the child, it would be irresponsible to place the child in their care.
Talk to your attorney about what you want. They’ll explain your options
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