One of the most crucial components of family law involves child custody. It is most commonly recognized as a by-product of divorce, but these discussions also revolve around other scenarios such as adoption and unmarried parents.
Klok Family Law is here to help you (and your children) work out a custodial arrangement that is in the best interest of your family. The first step to take is to educate yourself on the different scenarios involving child custody.
Divorce is the most common reason why parents need to address the issue of child custody. Once a couple has separated, who will (and should) maintain legal rights to guardianship of the children? In this situation, there are several possible outcomes:
- Joint Physical Custody. In this case, both biological parents have the right to not only make decisions regarding their child’s well-being, but they also have the privilege of physically having their child live with them. Since this is a joint arrangement, often times a parenting schedule is drafted, which typically involves the child splitting time between the biological mother and biological father’s house.
- Alternating Custody. This arrangement is similar in nature to joint physical custody, but is less common. Typically alternating custody is mandated when the parents live too far away for joint physical custody to be feasible or in the best interest of the child. The child will spend large periods of time with one parent, then move, or alternate, to the other parent’s residence. The difference here is that the parent of custody (whoever the child is living with at the time) has sole legal authority to make decisions, whereas with joint custody, both parents maintain legal authority regardless of the child’s current physical location.
- Sole Custody. This final arrangement occurs when one parent is granted sole custody over the child in question. It is the least common arrangement, but in necessary circumstances, one parent is awarded sole legal and physical custody. However, even if one parent is awarded sole custody, the other parent is usually entitled to visitation barring some particular circumstances.
When an unmarried couple has a child, that child can be raised, by all intents and purposes, by both parents. It is important to note, however, that legally, guardianship is typically awarded to the biological mother. The father can take steps to obtain guardianship without marriage as long as he demonstrates that he is fit for custody.
This is an arrangement that occurs when, for one reason or another, the biological mother and father do not take custody of their child. This could be a result of:
- The mother and father not wanting legal guardianship
- The mother and father not being fit for legal guardianship
- The mother and father being deceased
Typically custody will first be awarded to another family member, but in the event that another family member is not available, other options are available.
Regardless of which scenario you are in the midst of, Klok Family Law is here to help you and your family with life’s important decisions. Call an experienced child custody lawyer at Klok Family Law today and we can advise you regarding next steps that are in your family’s best interest.