The decision regarding custody of children is perhaps the hardest one to make when the parents are not willing or unable to come to an agreement. In most states, the judge must decide where the best interest of the child or children lie, and that involves a myriad of factors especially since the mother is no longer given automatic custody for young children.
The court infinitely prefers that the parents make their own arrangements for custody and visitations. When this does not happen, the judge will then appoint a mediator who will attempt to get the parents together long enough to come to an agreement. Failing that, the parents will be subjected to a Judicial Custody Conference where the judge will discuss the case again. If no resolution is reached at this point, the judge will order an Assessment, and based on the results of this in-depth process, the judge will decide on custody and visitation issues.
Types of custody
There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the right to make decisions concerning a child’s well being, such as education and health matters. Physical custody is the actual residence of the child with one parent. There are four combinations of custody: sole legal custody, joint legal custody, sole physical custody and joint legal custody. One parent can have both sole legal and physical custody; alternatively, one parent can have sole legal custody while the other parent has sole physical custody, and so on. In most cases, one parent has sole physical custody but both parents share legal custody.
Too often, the conflict in child custody is not so much consideration for what is in the best interests of the child but the desire of parents to exercise control, making it necessary for legal professionals to help a couple reach an agreement on custody.