Child Custody

Child custody is a legal term for the residential relationship between parent and child. Also known as guardianship, custody laws dictate parental rights, duties, and access when it comes to the care of a child.

Custody issues usually come up when a marriage dissolves. Courts typically award legal custody to the parent or guardian whom it feels will fulfill the best interests of the child. This is a departure from the historical bias towards the mother.

Types of Child Custody

There are typically two types of custody:

Sole Custody

  • In a sole custody arrangement, only one parent has full legal and physical custody of the child.

Joint Custody

  • Both parents in a joint custody arrangement share physical and/or legal custody of the child.

Custody Issues

Custody decisions determine "custodial" or "residential" parents and "non-custodial" or "non-residential" parents. This simply is the decision determining with which parent the child primarily live.

Custody issues tend to be the most bitter and emotional battles in a divorce proceeding. These battles make the court's decision more difficult to decide the best interest of the child.

If you have any questions regarding parental rights, speak with a local family law attorney to protect your rights regarding your relationship with your child.

Parental Rights

Parental Rights affect the legal relationships between parents and children in family law matters, generally involving child custody.

Most discussions of parental rights seem to involve termination of rights, but not necessarily. In many states, terminology for "custody" has been changed to "allocation of parental rights" and "shared parenting".

Every parent has the obligation to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical care to their child. Parents also have the right to raise their child to the best of their ability and the responsibility to do what's in the best interest of the child.

Termination of Parental Rights

Parental rights can be terminated for the following grounds:

  • severe abuse or neglect of any child in the household
  • abandonment
  • felony conviction for violent crime
  • incapacity due to long-term drug or alcohol use/abuse
  • incapacity due to long-term mental deficiency or illness

Parental rights can also be given up voluntarily if the parent either chooses to not participate or physically cannot care for the child.

Each state has their own definitions and specifics when it comes to parental rights laws. There is a civil movement to make sure states don't overzealously enforce those laws.

If you have any questions regarding parental rights, speak with a local family law attorney to protect your rights regarding your relationship with your child.


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