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What You Should Know About Child Custody In Divorce

by Theresa Hoffman

If you are planning to get a divorce or are even just weighing your options, one of the main subjects on your mind will likely be what is going to happen to your children. After all, your children are a major part of your life, and you want to be able to continue to spend as much time with them as possible. Child custody issues in a divorce can be quite complicated but are among the most important decisions that need to be made in the process. Get to know about some of the child custody laws as well as the general facts about child custody in divorce. Then, you will be able to better understand what to expect as you proceed with your divorce. 

There Are Two Types of Child Custody

The first thing that you need to know about child custody issues during a divorce is that there are two types of custody that you will likely be pursuing. The first is physical custody. Physical custody is just what it sounds like. The person with physical custody has the child living in the house with them. This could potentially be just one parent or may be split between the two parents. 

Legal custody is the other type of custody and is also quite important. The parent with legal custody of the child has the ability to make decisions about the child such as schooling, medical decisions, what activities they participate in, and the like. If only one parent has this type of custody, they do not need to consult the other parent before making any of these decisions. Again though, if both parents are granted legal custody, those decisions would be equally the right and responsibility of both parents and would require cooperation between the parents. 

Custody Does Not Always Go to the Mother 

Another important fact to know is that there is no child custody law that states primary (or main) custody of a child will go to the mother rather than the father. This is a myth that is widely circulated and accepted but is not entirely true. 

The reality is that most custody cases that do not result in joint custody are determined in favor of the mother. But that is not the case for all custody cases. Fathers can and do get primary custody of their children. The courts will consider a parent's financial, mental, and sometimes, physical health in determining who has primary custody. They will also take into consideration how much time the parent will spend at home with the child. 

If a father can prove that he will essentially do as good a job as the mother or better at caring for and providing for the child, then he can get full or joint custody. Do not assume custody is a done deal before you go to court or mediation. If you believe you should have full custody of your child, you will need to be able to fight for it (assuming custody is contested by your former spouse). 

Now that you know more about the realities of child custody issues in divorce, you can determine what you are going to do about pursuing your divorce and custody of your child.