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Child Custody

When it comes to child custody laws, both parents have equal rights as far as the federal law is concerned. However, the state in which the parents reside will make the ultimate decision in regards to child custody. The court will take various factors into account when determining child custody in a case. They are as follows:

  • Each parent’s physical and mental health.
  • The child’s mental and physical health along with their age and sex.
  • Each parent’s lifestyle and social factors: This includes factors such as if the parent is a smoker or has been abusive to the child in the past.
  • The child’s preference if they 12 or older.
  • The possible impact changing living arrangements would have on the affected child.
  • The child’s current lifestyle including school, home, community or church life.
  • The parent’s ability to provide the child with adequate medical care, shelter, food and clothing.
  • The emotional bond between the child and parent.
  • A child’s siblings: Usually siblings remain together with one parent. However, in some instances, they are split up. Regardless of the outcome, the court does consider the child’s siblings when awarding custody.

When the above factors favor one parent over the other, the courts typically award custody to that parent. The overall goal is to determine which parent will give the child the best and most stable home environment. Which parent should be awarded custody is sometimes determined via a child custody evaluation.

 

What is a child custody evaluation?

A child custody evaluation is a report drafted by a neutral professional about each child and each parent. This evaluation includes information from counselors, doctors, teachers and other people who have regular contact with the children. A recommendation is made to the court after this process has been completed as to which parent should be awarded custody.

Why hire a family lawyer for divorce proceedings and child custody hearings?

Divorce proceedings can become very complicated. This is especially true when a couple is not in agreement as to who gets what when it comes to assets and debts. In addition, child custody, child support, visitation rights and alimony all come into play during a divorce. Therefore, hiring an experienced family lawyer is imperative when dealing with the aforementioned issues. A parent who desires greater visitation rights or even joint custody and is being denied by the other parent often needs the help of a family lawyer in order to obtain the outcome they desire. Some situations pertaining to child custody reach even farther than divorce law and include possible child abuse allegations resulting in custody being awarded to grandparents or the state. Any issue dealing with the well being of a child deserves the benefit of a family lawyer’s experience.

In addition to cases pertaining to a child’s well being, a family lawyer is also imperative when it comes to cases pertaining to domestic violence. When one party is being abused and is fearful of their life, they require the help of a lawyer to ensure their safety. A case must be put together that will lead to an arrest of the abuser and the protection of the party being abused.

Do courts award custody to mothers more than fathers?

In past years, most states awarded custody of tender aged children, meaning those who are 5 and under, to the mother. However, this ruling is no longer a foregone conclusion. All states require that a mother and father be equally evaluated to determine which parent best meets the child’s needs.

In many divorce cases, the two parents agree for the mother to have custody of the child with the father having reasonable visitation rights. This happens for numerous reasons. One reason that parents agree to this arrangement is the mother tends to understand their child’s daily needs better. However, that is not always true. In addition, mothers are usually more tenacious when fighting for custody of their children than fathers.

Most family courts give preference to the parent who can demonstrate that he or she was the child’s primary caretaker. The following are factors that indicate a parent is a primary caretaker:

  • The parent educates, disciplines or guides the child in most matters.
  • The parent assists the child with homework on a fairly regular basis.
  • The parent transports the child to school or makes sure they get to school via bus or other means.
  • The parent arranges the child’s extracurricular activities and oversees their social interactions.
  • The parent makes sure the child has regular dental visits and medical care when needed.
  • The parent cleans and purchases the child’s clothing.
  • The parent grooms, dresses and baths the child.
  • The parent prepares the child’s meals.

Is custody always awarded to just one parent?

Custody is not always given to just one parent. There is also a joint custody option that gives both parents custody. There are three main types of joint custody, and they are as follows:

  • Joint legal and joint physical custody.
  • Joint legal custody: This means the parents share the responsibility of making religious, education and medical decisions for the child.
  • Joint physical custody: This means the child spends equal time with each parent.

Of course, child custody cases can differ from state to state. For example, in New Hampshire and New Mexico, courts are required to award joint custody unless doing so would be to the detriment of the child.

The process of filing for child custody:

The process of obtaining custody of a child often begins with a child custody hearing. This hearing is held if the parents have a disagreement as to which of them should have custody of the child. Each parent will be able to present their case by sharing their testimony. Sharing their testimony gives parents the ability to share with the court why they feel they should be awarded custody. Evidence is presented in some cases. In cases where abuse is present, photos showing evidence of the abuse are often shown to reveal the potential harm a child may experience if custody is awarded to the abusing parent. Witnesses are also allowed to speak on the behalf of each party.

When a couple determines divorce is imminent, their child’s custody can be one of the most contested aspects of the process. The above information highlights some of the ways that child custody laws enable parents to share child custody or keeps children away from parents that should never have custody.

Hire a Top Family Lawyer in the Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and Castle Rock Areas

We can help you get what’s fair to you and your family. At Maceau Law, we take the time to listen to you and properly represent you in a court of law. We don’t treat you like another number or try to rush you through the process which could compromise your outcome. Call us now at 719-633-2222 to schedule a free 30-minute consultation in-person over the phone with one of our Colorado Springs attorneys. All information is kept strictly private.

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