Child Custody: What Kind of Custody Suits Your Case?

Child holding parent's hand

Divorce is one of the most difficult times in any person’s life. When couples decide to end their union and go their separate ways, all properties would need to be legally divided, and children often suffer from emotional stress and loss of security and self-esteem.

Though it is true that there are no winners in a divorce, it is often the children who suffer the most; and they are the ones who have no say in the matter. For many parents who are struggling in Santa Fe, Mexico, they know that they could consult an attorney who understands child custody issues and cases.

What is Child Custody?

Child custody refers to the person or persons who will care for the well-being of a child. Upon birth, custody is naturally given to the child’s parents, but it may also be transferred to other family members, adopted parents, or other qualified guardians.

In cases of a couple seeking a divorce, the court will assist in the mediation to know who will have custody of the children. There are many factors that the court will consider when deciding what kind of custody will work, but the court will focus on the well-being of the children. A good child custody lawyer can help argue for a parent’s case or even ask for the financial support needed from the other parent who does not receive prime custody.

Child Custody in Divorce

The first thing that a couple thinks of in the divorce process is child custody and visitation. This could be decided either by the divorcing couple through an agreement, usually aided by their attorneys and mediators, or by the court.

If the couple settles this amicably, it is through an informal settlement negotiation. If it’s out-of-court dispute resolution proceedings, it’s ‘collaborative law’ or mediation. The lawyers of both parents make sure the process is smooth for both sides.

If neither party cannot agree, then the court, typically a judge from the family court, will decide on child custody and visitation.

Unmarried Parents

Girl hugging her dadIn cases where the parents of the child are not legally married, most states award the physical custody of the child to the mother. But if the father contests the decision, he can take legal steps to request visitation rights and some custody.

These cases are similar to the proceedings in a divorce case, wherein the parties may come to an agreement on their own with the help of their lawyers. The only difference is there’s no discussion about the division of properties and alimony.

In these cases, the court’s basis for its decision is always the child’s best interest and identify the primary caregiver for the child.

Non-Parental Child Custody

Some states refer to this as third-party custody, when a child’s grandparents, aunt, uncles, and even close family friends express interest in caring for the child. Some states use ‘guardianship’ instead of ‘custody’.

In most states, there are specific procedures that must be satisfied by people wishing to obtain non-parental custody, and this begins when that person files a ‘non-parental custody petition’ in the court. This establishes the petitioner’s relationship to the child as well as birth parent’s current status, who could either be living, dead, or missing. This also states why the petitioner is trying to obtain custody of the child, and why he or she should be granted custody. If the parents are alive and their whereabouts are known, a copy will be given to them.

Child custody is a painful issue that most families do not want to experience, but in some cases, it is the best way to build a better future for a child and help the family restart their lives.

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