One of the most difficult tasks associated with the dissolution of a relationship between two adults is how to take care of any children belonging to the couple. For this reason, there are many different strategies that may be employed to ensure the custody rights of children. However, there is also a great deal of diversity in how child custody rights are determined and how they are protected. If you are facing a situation where child custody is an issue, here is what you should know.
While child custody rights are of paramount importance, few countries have federal laws in place that dictate specific provisions that are in force throughout the country. More often, federal child custody laws provide a broad foundation. This leaves a great deal of room for local jurisdictions to enact laws that govern the process of who will be the custodial parent and who will pay child support. The degree of legal recourse available to both the custodial and non-custodial parent also differs widely from one location to another.
One of the first issues to be addressed in establishing child custody rights is to determine the nature of the custody. When both parents will continue to share the legal rights and privileges of a parent, the condition is known as joint custody. However, if the determination is that the interests of the child would be better served by placing all legal authority with one parent, the condition is known as full custody. Full custody does not necessarily mean the child will not be allowed to see the non-custodial parent or that the non-custodial parent will not pay child support. However, it does mean that the custodial parent assumes full legal responsibility for the child.
Regardless of the type of custody that is established, there is still often the matter of visitation rights. If there is no reason for the non-custodial parent to be restrained from seeing the child, child custody law in most jurisdictions will award some type of regular visitation time. In situations where the adults are amicably ending their relationship, it is not uncommon for them to work out a visitation schedule to present for the court’s approval. The idea behind the granting of visitation rights is that a child has the inherent right to know and have a relationship with both parents. Unless the courts determine that contact would not be in the best interests of the child, non-custodial parents are routinely awarded visitation privileges.
Because child custody rights are mainly the province of the local jurisdiction, there can be a great deal of diversity in how those rights are protected. For example, while it may be illegal for a custodial parent to deny visitation privileges to a non-custodial parent who is behind in child support payments, there are some areas where the courts will do little or nothing to support the rights of the non-custodial parent. In other jurisdictions, willful withholding of visitation privileges can lead to an arrest and eventually a trial. This broad diversity makes it imperative for both parents to become fully educated about all child custody laws that are relevant to the location where the child custody rights are assigned.
The easiest way to learn about child custody rights and laws that apply in your area is to seek legal representation. Even if there is no reason to think there will be problems later, both parents should secure their own legal counsel. A responsible attorney will provide the client with basic information about child custody rights and applicable laws that will govern the custody arrangement, as well as provide information about other resources to consult.
It is important to explore both father child custody rights and privileges as well as become well informed on the issue of mother child custody rights and privileges. In the United States, an important resource for all parents is the Children’s Rights Council based in Washington, DC. This non-profit organization is dedicated to protecting the rights of all children, and has chapters in many areas of the country. The CRC can help provide access to information that is applicable to a given location as well as provide support for one or both parents as matters of custody, child support, visitation rights, and other matters related to child custody rights are worked out.