Divorce Custody Questions
In divorce cases, the first thing that crosses the minds of the disputing partners is the custody of the child. To whom will the child live after the divorce till the child turns 18? Divorce child custody cases are long-drawn battles of contention where both the parents try to get the child for themselves. Needless to say, myriad divorce custody questions surface in the minds of the parents regarding custody.
Following are the topics which are generally raised in custody battles:
Divorce custody questions regarding visitations, grandparents custody, grandparents rights, children’s rights, child support, pet custody, joint or shared custody, sole custody, child support termination, non-parent custody and many more are asked by partners going through divorce and battling for custody.
Questions popularly framed:
In any relationship going sour and ending up in divorce and custody battle, several questions emerge in the minds of the couples. They need to be sure of their rights and responsibilities also to understand the delicate issue that child custody is.
- Who gets the child custody?
Of the many divorce custody questions, this is one of the most popular. Though laws differ in different states, but it holds true that the best interests of the child are most important. So, the parent who can take care of the best interests of the child gets the custody. Also, courts give importance to the parent ho happens to be the primary caretaker of the child while considering child custody. Laws do not look at your gender. So, if a mother is proven to be on drugs, is alcoholic, has a history of child neglect, the father is awarded custody.
- What are best interests of the child and explain primary caretaker?
Any matter that keeps the child happy in terms of emotional and physical well-being and enables the child to have an all-round physical, emotional, psychological and mental development is included in the best interests of the child.
The parent who meets the basic or primary requirements of the child from preparing meals, to dressing the child up, taking care of his/her hair, teeth, health, hygiene and ultimately bond well with the day-to-day needs of the child is called the primary caretaker.
- How many kinds of child custody are there?
Broadly, child custody can be either sole or joint. In the case of sole custody, only one parent is awarded the entire responsibility of the child. That parent is authorized to take care of the child in terms of his/her health, schooling, dwelling, religious inclinations and takes decisions in all of these matters.
As the name suggests, joint custody talks about both parents sharing the responsibility of the child. Though the child is awarded to physically live with one parent, legal decisions of the child regarding his/her health, education, religion etc are taken jointly by both the parents. The non-custodian parent gets visitation rights.
- Explaining visitation rights, arrangements and schedules.
The non-custodian parent is awarded visitation rights by the courts so that he/she may involve himself/herself in the raising of the child. Courts ask the divorced parents to make a consensual visitation schedule and formulate a parenting plan through discussions, maybe taking the help of a divorce custody mediator.
If they fail to chart out a visitation schedule through discussions, courts ask them to then participate in an evaluation process involving a divorce custody evaluator. The latter is a mental health expert who provides recommendations to the court regarding the custody of the child, the visitation arrangements etc. The judge may consider the propositions and award the final custody and visitation arrangements.
Visitation schedules and arrangements intend to specify, duration, frequency and type of place where the non-custodian parent can visit his/her child. This is to reduce irregularities and avoid confusions.
- What is non-parental custody and visitation?
In situations, where adults other than the biological parents contest for the custody of the child, it is non-parental custody. Non-parents may include grandparents, uncles or aunts who may have developed a bond with the child owing to the fact that the child may have lived with them for a considerable period of time. Generally courts prefer biological parents over the non-parents while awarding child custody. But in strong cases where the non-parents can prove that they are answers to the best interests of the child and the parents are unfit in raising the child or are dead, courts are known to have awarded them custody.
Grandparents’ rights hence are being given a lot of importance. In most of the cases, such non-parents are awarded visitation rights while the custody is given to a parent.
- Who gets custody when the parents are unmarried?
When the parents are unmarried and are fighting for custody, courts award the child custody to the mother in most of the cases. If the unwed father has a strong case and proves in the courts that the mother is unfit and perhaps mentally incapable of handling the child, or on drugs, alcohol, the custody, then the custody is awarded to the father.
- About child support.
Child support is the financial support that the court asks the non-custodian parent to give to the custodian parent to meet the growing child’s educational, health, religious needs. Child support is for the child and should not be confused with alimony. The latter is spousal support which a husband has to pay to his wife in a divorce. Child support needs to be provided even if any divorced partner does not have visitation rights of the child. Child support can be joint as well, where the resources, incomes and assets of both the ex-spouses are pooled in to calculate the child support.