What You Should Know About Child Custody


Divorce takes a heavy toll not only on the two partners but also on the children. Child custody is one of the most important issues in a divorce because it has far-reaching consequences on the child’s emotional growth and psychological well-being. Although every parent wants what’s best for the child’s current and future well-being, it’s not always easy to agree 100% on all the issues. Luckily, a custody attorney will help a divorcing couple settle contentious issues regarding child guardianship.

Before we dive into the factors that influence child custody decisions, it’s important to know the different types of child custody agreements.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives a parent the right and responsibility to make major decisions on the child’s behalf. These decisions are critical to a child’s social welfare. Such decisions include the school the child attends, religious upbringing, medical treatment, sports, and social events that the child attends. In North Dakota, legal custody is known as decision-making responsibility. Both parents may have legal custody of the child. This means that they must consult each other when making decisions for the child. But when only one parent has legal custody, they don’t need to consult the other parent when making decisions. Aspects of legal care may change from state to state. A custody attorney in Bismarck, North Dakota, will help you understand all legal custody aspects.

Physical Custody

Physical custody designates one parent who lives with the child on a full-time basis. In this case, the child lives with one parent most of the time, while the other parent is granted visitation rights or some other form of parenting time. The parent with physical custody is often referred to as the custodial parent. In more than 51% of custody decisions, divorcing couples agree that the mother should become the custodial parent.

Sole Custody

This is when one parent has sole legal and physical guardianship of the child. This is largely the case when the courts deem one parent to be unfit, often because of drug and alcohol abuse, physical abuse, or neglect. When one parent has sole custody, they’ll make all the child’s decisions without requiring approval from the other parent.

Joint Custody

Joint guardianship allows both parents to continue sharing the rights and responsibilities of raising their child on an equal basis. This means joint physical custody and joint legal care. In this case, an arrangement is made for the child to spend equal time with both parents. Additionally, both parties must consult with each other when making decisions for the child. A custody lawyer will help a separating couple come up with an arrangement that serves the child’s best interests. This is necessary so that the child can grow in a stable environment. Joint care is the ideal agreement that most divorcing couples strive to have.

When parents cannot agree on child guardianship on their own or with the help of custody attorneys, it’s up to the courts to make the decision. These are the factors that will influence the court’s decision when determining child custody.

  • The ability of each parent to nurture, love, and provide guardianship to the child.
  • The financial ability of either parent to provide clothing, shelter, medical needs, and other child expenses.
  • The moral fitness, mental and physical health of the parents.
  • How a child’s social and school life will be affected by the changes.
  • If the court determines that the child is mature and reasonable enough to make an independent decision, the court will factor in the child’s preferences.
  • The willingness of a parent to facilitate and foster a relationship between the other parent and the child.
  • The safety, stability, and efficiency of each parent’s home environment.

Child custody is one of the most stressful aspects of a divorce. No parent wants to feel alienated from their children, especially after a separation from their spouse. A custody lawyer will help you and your partner come to a fair child care agreement that will serve your child’s best interests and will also be fair to you and your ex-partner.

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