Going Through a Divorce? A Quick Guide to Child Custody Law

When you have been married for a while and have children with someone, if divorce becomes an inevitability, one thing will spring to your mind; what does this mean for your children?

It is incorrectly assumed by many people that following a divorce or separation, the child or children are awarded to the mother. But the laws have changed, and today, it is more than likely that a father may be awarded primary custody of a child. 

But, if you are new to the area of child and family law, you will probably need a bit of clarity, as it is complicated. So, here is a quick guide to help you make sense of child custody in the US.

What Is Child Custody?

Child custody and access laws vary by state in the United States. Still, generally, the child’s best interests and well-being are the primary consideration when determining custody and access arrangements. And whether you are hiring a lawyer in Texas or looking into child law firms in Cardiff for advice, both will tell you that a child’s welfare is the top priority.

In most states, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody relates to the parent’s right to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education and medical care. Physical custody is linked to where the child lives, so it is more about who has primary access to the child or children.

Joint custody, where both parents share legal and physical custody, is becoming increasingly common. However, in some cases, one parent may be awarded sole custody.

Determining Visitation

When determining access or visitation, the court will consider factors such as the child’s age, the distance between the parent’s homes, the relationship with each parent, and any history of abuse or neglect.

If the parents cannot agree on a custody and access arrangement, the court will decide based on the child’s best psychological interests. It’s often helpful for parents to try and come to an agreement through mediation rather than going to court.

The laws differ by state and are prone to change, so it’s always best to consult a local attorney specializing in family law for the most up-to-date information.

Prevention or Stopping of Visitation

It is very rare for a parent to not be able to see their child or children, but there are cases when it is relevant and in the child’s best interests. 

If a parent has a history of abuse or neglect towards the child or the other parent, the court may limit or terminate visitation to protect the child’s safety. If a parent has a substance abuse problem that puts the child at risk, the court may limit or terminate visitation until they get treatment and demonstrate that they are sober.

Or, if a parent consistently fails to follow the court-ordered visitation schedule, the court may limit or terminate their visitation rights.

So, if you need more information about child access or visitation in an upcoming divorce, always seek the advice of a trained lawyer.