Child custody involves the decision of where the minor children of the marriage should live and who should be responsible for them. It is not true that mothers always get custody of the children when parents get divorced. The courts have to consider the best interests of the children in custody matters. For example,if it is determined that the mother is abusive,neglectful, mentally ill, a substance abuser, has an extensive criminal record, is in prison, or presents a clear and present danger to the child, then she will be denied custody. She will be deemed to be an unfit parent, and completely unreliable when it comes to the care,guidance, support and supervision of the children.
However, less than 20% of single parents with custodial rights are the fathers,since in the absence of proving that the mother is an unfit parent, judges usually grant custody to the mother. It is important to understand that there are different types of child custody, ie. Sole custody, Legal custody and Joint custody.
Sole custody, also known as full custody, is awarded when a parent must demonstrate to the court that their former partner is an unfit parent. Also, in situations where the parents live too far apart, the courts award sole physical custody to one parent, usually to spare the child the trauma of too much traveling between parents. . Legal custody refers to the legal authority of one parent to make major unilateral decisions for a child, such as choices about medicine, religion and education. The parent with legal custody can choose how the child will be brought up without any input from the non-custodial parent. This parent usually has sole physical custody.
Joint custody arrangements can refer to physical custody, legal custody or both. In this arrangement,both parents share responsibilities for the child's upbringing, and have input into decisions regarding their child's future. In most custody cases handled by this firm, the divorcing couples are awards joint custody with physical custody awarded to one parent, ie the child primarily resides with one of the parents. Visitation schedules are worked out amicably between the parents, based on each parent's housing situation, work schedules and the child's needs. In New York, the courts believe that joint custody arrangements are in the best interests of the child, where the child stays in regular contact with both parents, and the parents share responsibility for the child. A court can make orders about a child's custody only until the child is 18 years old.