What is Child Custody?
Child Custody and Guardianship are the legal terms used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and child, including e.g. the right of the parent to make decisions for the child and the duty to care for it; it comes into question in proceedings involving dissolution of marriage, annulment and other legal proceedings where the residence and care of children are concerned. In most jurisdictions child custody is determined by the best interests of the child standard.
In many proceedings to dissolve a marriage, issues relating to child custody generate the most acrimonious Child custody disputes. It is not uncommon for one parent to accuse the other of trying to turn the child(ren) against him or her, or of disrupting the parent’s communication with the child(ren). In extreme cases, parents have taken children out of the jurisdiction, in violation of court orders, so as to frustrate the other parent’s custody or visitation rights.
“Legal Custody” gives a parent the right to make long-term decisions about the raising of a child, and key aspects of the child’s welfare — including the child’s education, medical care, dental care, and religious instruction. In most child custody cases, legal custody is awarded to both parents (called “joint legal custody”), unless it is shown that one parent is somehow unfit, or is incapable of making decisions about the child’s upbringing. Legal custody is different from “physical custody,” which involves issues such as where the child will live.
In Child Custody situations, “joint custody” usually refers to one of two possible scenarios: joint legal and physical custody, or joint legal custody.