Child Custody is an educational term involving guardianship that pertains to legal and specific relationship between a judge or other legally authorized authority and a child in the care of that individual. The term, however, encompasses a large amount of related issues and can mean different things to different people. The best way to understand, though, is to think of Child Custody as the right of one or more adults to make decisions on the behalf of a child. It includes making medical decisions (including administering medications), educational decisions (including choosing schools), and religious beliefs (including private or public schooling).
There are two primary factors that govern child custody: the natural parents and the non-custodial parent (or custodian). The natural parents are generally married with a legitimate biological relationship to the child. In cases of extended family, including stepfamilies, the relationship may be less clear. Custodial parents, also commonly known as non-custodial parents, do not share a biological relationship with the child, although they may have created a relationship by providing monetary support or simply being a caretaker for the child. Child custody cases come down to a simple question of law: who has more priority – the child or the other parent? Check out https://www.stlouisdivorcelawyers.net/child-custody/ to know more about this case.
Child custody, like all areas of the law, is a very grey area. In most jurisdictions, both biological parents retain legal custody and sole physical custody of their children. However, in some jurisdictions, the court allows one parent to have sole legal custody while the other parent retains physical custody. When this happens, the issue is one of undue pressure placed on the child. As mentioned above, both biological parents retain legal custody, but in certain circumstances, one parent may have more weight than the other when it comes to making important decisions for the child. Here are a few examples:
-In the case of unmarried parents, if the child has no relationship with one of the parents, the court may prefer joint custody. In some jurisdictions, joint custody may also be granted if the child spends more time with one of the parents than with the other. A recent decision in California illustrated that the court can grant joint custody to a person who was the victim of abuse against the child, if the victim was the subject of ongoing violence towards the other parent.
-In the case of a divorced couple, the family court may order joint physical custody. This decision is based on the facts of the case, which may include an example where one of the partners abused the other. The court has broad discretion to determine what type of custody it will grant. Many times, the family court will give the divorcing couple what is called a “joint and several” arrangement in which the spouses share time with the children, allowing each parent to spend time with the children.
-In the case of separated or divorced parents, the family court will attempt to strike a balance between the individual needs of each parent, as well as the needs of the children. For example, the court may award joint legal custody, even though the biological parents are unfit. This is done to allow the children to have a stable environment in which to grow and thrive. If the parents are able to agree, the court will enter into a custody agreement.