Custody can be assigned to either of the parent or to both parents. If it is given to one parent then it is called Sole Custody. If the custody is share by both parents then it is called Joint Custody.
Legal custody is the right and responsibility to decide on the vital aspects of a child's life, like education, religion, health care and insurance.
Physical custody means where the child resides. A parent can be given sole physical custody or joint physical custody or sole legal custody or joint legal custody or a combination of those.
Brothers and sisters stay usually together, although a court decides to separate them in some cases.
Sole custody is given to one of the parents only if it is in the advantage of the child. This usually happens if the other parent will probably indignant to the child. This can be the case if the divorce resulted from vehemence, physical or mental abuse, if the non-custodian parent cannot take care of the child because of psychological issue, if he is using drugs or alcohol, if he has deserted the child in the past or because he or she is in jail.
In most states, the non-custodian parent will get visitation rights.
Both parents share the child custody USA and as significance they have joint decision making power over the child. Most of the time this is in the benefit of the child. You should try to get joint custody, if none of the above mentioned reasons for Solo Custody exist. Also if you and your ex argues a lot over many things. You should put away your personal issues and jointly adopt for what is the best for your child.
Joint custody arrangements are different from couple to couple. Those arrangements are usually written down in a Parenting Plan. The parenting plan describes when the child lives with his mother and when with his father. It also describes how the transitions will be done, where the child will spend his/her holidays, what happens on his/her birthday. The important life decisions like school, health care, sports, social organization memberships and religion will also laid down in the parenting plan. Some courts and legal professionals talk today about parenting plan and not of custody and visitation any more.
The physical arrangements are very dependent on the real situation of the divorced parents. If they live close, the periods of staying at one place can be a few days. If parents live far away from each other after the divorce, it is more difficult to switch. A child cannot go to a different school every week. In those cases, different arrangements have to be made, for example each 6 month, each year or even longer period. During holidays and vacations, the child can stay with the other parent.
The situation of the parents or of the child can change. Then, it might be needed to review the parenting plan or the child custody arrangement. In the case of joint custody, the parents can work out a new solution themselves. In the case of sole custody, it might be needed to go back to the court and ask for a change of order.
Custody Court Decision Criteria
Each state in the United States has its own custody laws. The criteria for deciding might be different, but in general they follow the same code: The best interest of the Child
The most important criteria for a court to decide on Child Custody are:
The best interest of the Child
Primary caretaker: who has been the main caretaker in the past? I mean father or mother of the child. What is the current state?
Safety: is it safe where the child is going to live? Is one or both of the parents vicious?
Bond with the parents: to which of the parent is attached to the child the most?
Health situation of the parents: think of physical health, mental conditions, smoking, drinking and drugs habits.
The children's preferred option. This is taken into consideration once the child has attained the age of 12.
The parent's financial situation: as a minimum, the custodian parent should have enough financial resources to support himself or herself. For the child a child support order can be issued, but it is always better if the custodian parent has more financial resources.
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