Find Laws Find Lawyers Free Legal Forms USA State Laws
Home » Find Laws » Family Laws » Child Custody » Understanding Child Custody

Understanding Child Custody

Child Custody

Family Forms

Understanding Child Custody

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 custodial parent – 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 applicable jurisdictions, the respective relationship undertaken with regard to each parent involved, and the analysis of residence.

Child Custody Basics

Although circumstances may exist in which parents will be able to determine custody without contention – resulting from individual relinquishment of custodial claims, other circumstances may exist in which judicial review may be necessary in order to determine a decision with regard to custody. Parents who are not considered to be the primary custodianof a child will be required to pay child support to the parent undertaking primary custodial responsibility:

Temporary Child Custody

Temporary custody is the child custody awarded to a parent during the process of divorce or separation that grants custody to parent with full rights of custody to the exclusion of the other parent. The non-custodial parent can receive limited rights in some cases, as well as supervised visitation rights.

Joint Child Custody

Joint custody gives equal rights to both parents to make decisions concerning the upbringing of the child. Courts award joint custody in cases where both parents can properly perform their duties as parents. If an applicant parent to sole custody, the parent applicant to rebut a presumption that joint custody is in the child.

Sole Child Custody

Sole custody of one parent does not preclude the non-custodial parent from visiting with the child in question with the exception of abuse or criminal activity. In the event that a sole custodian agrees to visitation rights for the non-custodial parent in a child custody case, the courts may still impose restrictions on visits by non-custodial parents

Third Party Child Custody

The court may grant custody of the child to a third party when – or if - the third party has claimed responsibility; grandparents or close familial relatives are often regarded as third party custodians. If a married couple shares multiple children, the court has the power to not only separate the children, but also determine which children – if any – would be better suited with specific parents. However, for reasons of moral support, children are kept together in most cases.

Custodial Visitation

In certain cases, the custodial parent will be responsible for determining visitation rights and privileges with regard to the non-custodial parent; however, the presiding court has the power to deny or overturn any visitation arrangements. Legal hearings involving the determination of custody including circumstances considered to contribute to place a child’s emotional wellbeing at risk are as follows:

· Non-custodial parents who have been physically or have emotionally abused the child in the past

· Non-custodial parent suffers from serious mental illness

· Parents who are in prison or have a criminal record are not automatically denied visitation rights, yet are seldom considered as custodians.

Custody vs. Guardianship

The custodial parent is the parent who is considered to be the legal guardian of the child – or children in question. The classification of legal guardianshipmandates the expressed right to determine any and all decisions and life choices with regard to a child or minor – including:

· The determination of religion

· The decision with regard to education undertaken by a child

· Residential guidelines; guardianship undertaken by the custodial parent serves as the primary residence for the child or children

NEXT: What Are The Child Custody Laws

Related Articles

Link To This Page


Find an MA Lawyer
Guide to Finding a Lawyer