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The Primary Factor Considered in a Child Custody Case

Parents, who decide to part ways after failing to find solutions that will mend the tear in their relationship, need to address vital divorce-related issues before finally going separate ways. One of these issues is child custody, a complicated issue that divorcing parents need to settle. Child custody is the legal decision on who ought to have full guardianship of the child and what specific responsibilities each parent will have over their child.

 There is no federal law that mandates US states on how the case of child custody ought to be decided, thus, some states differ on how they determine the case. Despite the differences though, there is one constant factor which every state considers and prioritizes – the child’s best interest. For children below 18 years old, infants and the unborn, as well as individuals who are mentally incompetent, the court usually appoints a guardian ad litem to represent them. This special guardianship lasts only during the duration of the legal proceedings (such as divorce, cases of child neglect and / or abuse, contested inheritance and paternity suits). The guardian ad litem is usually a lawyer; the court, though, may decide to appoint a social worker to represent the child and inform the court of his or her needs and interests.

Other factors the court may consider when determining the best custodian for the child may include any of the following:

–          the capability of the parent to address the child’s medical and educational needs and the parent’s understanding of these needs, his or her emotional state, physical limitations and work schedules;

–          the child’s relationship with his or her parents;

–          the parent’s ability to meet the emotional needs of the child;

–          the fitness and financial stability of the parents;

–          the proximity of the parents’ homes;

–          the amount and quality of time spent by the parent with the child before the separation

There are also different types of custody that the court may decide to award: legal custody, joint legal custody, physical custody and sole custody. Unless one parent is deemed by the court as unfit to act as custodial parent, custody is usually awarded to both parents who would share equal time with their child / children (granting that they live near each other) and who can decide with regard to their child / children’s future.

Consulting with a highly-qualified family lawyer would enable you understand greatly the issues regarding child custody. He or she will also be able to help you realize what is really best for your child.

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