Child Custody USA

This article on Child Custody USA addresses how to get custody, explains something about the United Nations Convention on the Children, gives a definition of Child Custody, explains which state law applies, describes the types of custody that exist in the USA and what aspects are important for courts when they decide on custody in a divorce case.

The Best Interest of the Child principle

Child Custody USA is about which of the parents makes the important decisions about the life of the children and about who will take care of them. The internationally accepted custody principle is that "the child resides in accordance with the best interest of the child". Despite this principle, the rules and requirements for Child Custody USA differ from state to state.

How to get Child Custody USA

Getting child custody usa can be hard. Even if you try to get shared custody, your ex might be against it. So, if you expect difficulties getting custody and you want to arm yourself against it, we recommend you to read this book: Child Custody USA Strategies. Somewhere in these 1200 pages you will find your strategy. There are separate versions for women and men.

An International Foundation

The United Nations drew up the "United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child". This convention is the basis of the state custody laws. Today, the Convention on the Rights of the Child have been ratified by more than 193 countries. Important articles for children of divorce are of this convention:

Article 3: The child resides in accordance with the best interest of the child.
Article 9: The child's right not be separated from his or her parents against the child's will.
Article 10: If the parents live in different countries, the child has the right to maintain regular direct contact with both parents. All countries are obliged to cooperate to give the child free access and exit of the country for family reunification purposes.

Definition of Child Custody USA

The concept of Custody is important to understand for divorcing parents.

Legally spoken, Custody is the right given to a parent by the competent court to make the important decisions for a child's life. These decisions concern in general: education, health, religion, place of living.

The parent having the custody is called the custodian parent. The parent without custody rights is called the non-custodian parent.

It does not mean that the child physically lives with his custodian parent. The custodian parent or the court can decide otherwise. The parent where the child really lives has physical custody.

Which State has jurisdiction?

In the U.S.A. children custody laws differ by state and district. Those laws can be very different from state to state. So it is important to know which state's law will be applicable on your situation.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act specifies the rules for which state can determine custody of a child. The basis rule is: the state in which the child lived during the last 6 month before the divorce took place.

When the court decides about custody, it primarily looks at what is in the best interest of the child. The non-custodian parent usually get visitation rights.

Types of Child Custody USA

Custody can assigned to one or to both parents. If it is assigned to one parent only, it is called Sole Custody. If both parents share the custody, it is called Joint Custody.

Legal Custody

Legal custody is the right and obligation to decide on the important aspects of a child's life, like education, religion, health care and insurance.

Physical Custody

This means where the child is living. A parent can be given sole physical custody or joint physical custody. Or sole legal custody or joint legal custody or a combination of those.

Brothers and sisters stay usually together, although a court decides to split them in some cases.

Sole Custody

Sole custody is given to one of the parents only if it is in the benefit of the child. This usually happens if the other parent will probably hurt the child. This can be the case if the divorce resulted from violence, physical or mental abuse, if the non-custodian parent cannot take care of the child because of mental reasons, if he is using drugs or alcohol, if he has neglect the child in the past or because he or she is in jail.

In most states, the non-custodian parent will get visitation rights.

Joint Custody

Both parents share the child custody USA and as a consequence they have joint decision power over the child. Most of the time this is in the benefit of the child. You should try to get joint custody, if non of the above mentioned reasons for Sold Custody exist. Also if you and your ex fight a lot over many things. You should put away your personal grievances and jointly decide for what is the best for your child.

Joint custody arrangements are different from couple to couple. Those arrangements are usually written down in a Parenting Plan. The parenting plan describes when the child lives with his mother and when with his father.

It also describes how the transitions will be done, where the child will spend his Holidays, what happens on his birthday. The important life decisions like school, health care, sports, social organization memberships and religion will also laid down in the parenting plan.

Some courts and legal professionals talk today about parenting plan and not of custody and visitation any more.

The physical arrangements are very dependent on the actual situation of the divorced parents. If they live close, the periods of staying at one place can be a few days. If parents live far away from each other after the divorce, it is more difficult to switch. A child cannot go to a different school every week. In those cases, different arrangements have to be make, for example each 6 month, each year or even longer periods. During holidays and vacations, the child can stay with the other parent.

The situation of the parents or of the child can change. Then, it might be needed to revise the parenting plan or the Child Custody USA arrangement. In the case of joint custody, the parents can workout a new solution themselves. In the case of sole custody, it might be needed to go back to the court and ask for a change of order.

Custody Court Decision Criteria

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, each state in the United States has it's own custody laws. The criteria for deciding might be different, but in general they follow the same principle: The best interest of the Child

The most important criteria for a court to decide on Child Custody usa are:

  • The best interest of the Child
  • Primary caretaker: which of the parents has been the primary caretaker in the past? What is the current situation?
  • Safety: is it safe where the child is going to live? Is one or both of the parents violent?
  • Bond with the parents: to which of the parent is the child attached to most?
  • Health situation of the parents: think of physical health, mental conditions, smoking, drinking and drugs habits.
  • The children's preferred option. This is taken into account once the child has reached the age of 12.
  • The parent's financial situation: as a minimum, the custodian parent should have enough financial resources to support himself or herself. For the child a child support order can be issued, but it is always better if the custodian parent has more financial resources.

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