Lic #: 16130-64
Child custody is the determination made by the court responsible for the child custody hearing, which establishes which of the two parents will be considered to be the guardian – or custodian – of the child or children in question. The procedure undertaken in order to determine child custody differ on a case by case basis with regard to all involved parties, including individual role(s), relationship(s), and behavior(s) within the scope of the child custody case in question.
Physical and Legal Custody
Sometimes, parents work out these arrangements between themselves, either completely voluntarily or with the assistance of their attorneys or a mediator. When they are unable to reach a decision, however, or when unmarried parents are unable to agree on who will have custody of their child, the court may intervene and make a decision based on the child’s best interests.
Regularly, physical custody is awarded to one parent with whom the child will live most of the time. Often, however, the custodial parent shares “legal custody” of the child with the non-custodial parent. “Legal custody” includes the right to make decisions about the child’s education, religion, health care, and other important concerns.
Some parents have chosen, or a court may order, a joint-custody arrangement in which the child spends an approximately equal amount of time with both parents.
Another type of custody is commonly referred to as split custody, where one parent has custody of one or more of the parties’ children, and the other parent has custody of the other(s).
Factors to Consider
In deciding who will have custody, the courts consider various factors. The overriding consideration is the child’s best interests. If the children are old enough, the courts will take their preference into account in making a custody decision.