What is custody?
Custody is a parent’s legal right to control his or her child’s upbringing. A parent who does not have custody will still likely be entitled to visitation, the ability to spend time with the child(ren). Both parents have a legal right to ask for custody and visitation in a divorce proceeding.
Legal custody: The person who has the right to make major decisions about the child. This includes where your child goes to school, what kind of religious training a child receives, whether the child gets surgery.
Physical custody: The person with whom the child lives on a day-to-day basis. A parent with primary physical custody is sometimes called the “custodial parent” or the child’s “primary caretaker.”
- who has been the child’s primary caretaker
- the quality of each parent’s home environment
- how “fit” the judge thinks each parent is (stable home and lifestyle, good judgment, has a job, good mental and physical health)
- which parent the child is living with now, and for how long
- each parent’s ability to provide emotional and intellectual support for the child
- which parent allows the other parent into the child’s life (does not try to cut out the other parent)
- if the child is old enough, which parent the child wants to live with
- whether your child would be separated from any siblings
- whether either parent has been abusive
A judge must consider whether there has been domestic violence.
For more detailed answers to frequently asked questions on custody, visit CourtHelp.