As you might imagine, child custody can easily be one of the most heated issues in any divorce; particularly when both souses cannot come to an agreement. Typically, the rights of both parents are equal. This means that when two parents separate, they each have equal custody rights to a child. When courts determine where a child should live, they attempt to determine what is is the best interest of the child.
In order the determine what is in the best interests of the child, courts will take the wishes of the parents and that of the child into consideration. They will also look at the child’s relationships with both parents as well as siblings and other individuals whom can significantly impact the child’s interests. The court will also look at other factors such as the health of the individuals involved and how comfortable the child is in their home and community. Matters pertaining to a child’s education, health-care, and religious upbringing. There are several types of custody that can be awarded:
Temporary Custody – Temporary custody is typically awarded during the divorce process. It allows one individual to take responsibility for the child until a more permanent arrangement is determined.
Exclusive Custody – Exclusive custody awards one parent with the sole custody of the child. In these situations, the non-custodial parent may have visitation rights or in extreme cases, supervised visitation rights to the child. When one parent sues for exclusive custody, they must present a case as to why joint custody is not in the child’s best interest.
Joint Custody – Joint custody awards both parents equal rights over the upbringing of a child. The court awards joint custody when it deems that both parents are able to perform their parental duties.
When a third party, such as a grandparent or other close relative seeks custody, a court may award them custody if they deem it to be in the best interests of the child. When there are multiple sibling, they will typically live together but the court does have the authority to split custody between the parents if they deem it is in their best interests.