All too often, divorce court judges determine custody arrangements for any minor children of a couple going through a contested divorce. If the spouses had the children together while married, they have joint guardianship over that child and the parental rights are equal. When they divorce, each parent has an equal right to custody of the child. The parent who retains either sole or primary custody may make decisions regarding the child’s education, religious affiliation and health care.
The court has the opportunity of choosing one of several types of custody.
• Exclusive custody, which awards one parent custody rights to the exclusion of the other parent; the non-custodial parent may receive visitation or supervised visitation rights.
• Joint custody allows both parents equal rights in making decisions regarding their children’s upbringing. Courts award joint custody when both parents can effectively perform their parental duties. The court may even award the custody of a child to a third-party, such as a grandparent or godparent, if the third-party has sought custody, AND if neither parent is considered fit. In a marriage with multiple children, the court may split the custody between parents in accord with the best interest of each particular child. Usually, however, the best interests of a child will be to live with his or her siblings.
• Temporary custody grants custody of the child to an individual during the divorce or separation proceeding.
In determining child custody, the court attempts to place the children in the home that will be in the best interests of the child. This is usually the most emotionally-fraught part of the divorce proceedings. Child custody decisions are based on the wishes of the parents, the child in question, siblings, other people with strong attachments to the child as well as the child’s age and comfort level in the home, school and community in question.
When the court awards child custody to just one parent, the non-custodial parent often has a right to visit the child. In extraordinary circumstances, the courts may impose visitation restrictions by the noncustodial parent.
If you are going through a difficult, contested divorce, fighting with your spouse over child custody, you need to get the best possible legal representation. We will stand by you every step of the way, protecting both your rights and those of your children. Call the law offices of Martin Sir & Associates at 615-256-5661. We will be there for you.