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Child Support And Custody

Child custody is often an aftereffect of divorce and is often part andparcel of divorce law. Accordingly, the court which has jurisdictionover a divorce proceeding also has jurisdiction over child custody disputes. Child custody disputes, however, do not just arise whenmarried parents seek divorce. Child custody disputes also arise when(i) unmarried parents cannot agree as to who will take responsiblefor their minor child, (ii) a parent or a legal guardian is found tobe incapable of providing for and making decisions for the minorchild, or (iii) when the parent or both parents or legal guardian isdeceased. Child custody is also not just limited to biological oradoptive parents, but can also be awarded to family members, fosterparents or an institution.

In the case of married couples, under common statutory provisions,parents have joint guardianship over their minor child, their parental rights are equal, and, when they separate, parents retaintheir equal right to the custody of the child. In all cases of childcustody, the courts' foremost consideration is the child's "bestinterests." This means, courts must take into consideration, foremost, the child's wishes, the parents' wishes, the child's relationship with the parents, guardian, or siblings, and the child's education, welfare, and health.

State laws generally govern child custody cases. The general rule is that child custody should be awarded to a parent rather than a non-parent.The presumption of law in child custody differs from one state to another, however, most states presume that both parents should have joint custody over their minor child.

There are different types of custody that the courts can choose from. In the case of married parents, while divorce or separation proceedings are ongoing, the court may grant temporary custody to an individual. Following divorce proceedings, the court may grant joint custody where both parents enjoy equal rights in rearing their minor child if the court finds that both parents are capable of responsibly providing for the child.

The court may also grant exclusive custody to one parent and grant theother parent non-custodial rights. In exclusive custody, the non-custodial parent may be awarded supervision rights and visitation rights. Seeking exclusive custody of a child is common in divorce proceedings. The parent suing for exclusive child custody must overthrow the presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. In cases where the marriage produced multiple children,courts can award each parent custody to a particular child in accordance with the best interests of the specific child. In instances where both parents are unfit, or when both parents are deceased, the court may award custody to a grandparent or a closerelative.

One of the issues that would arise in child custody cases is when the custodial parent seeks to deny the non-custodial parent visitation rights or when the non-custodial parent, having been denied ofvisitation rights, attempts to violate the court's decree.

Determining who has custody over a child will involve complex andemotionally-draining litigation. Child custody cases, in streetspeak, are often referred to as "battles," and battles the yare. Expert child custody attorneys help parents and guardians protect their rights and that of their child's and win the battle the least heartbreaking way.

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