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Child Custody for Unmarried Couples

Child custody is one of the hottest disputes during a divorce, and that is saying something, considering that there are many other possible areas of dispute, such as alimony, child support, and division of assets and liabilities.

But what if the parents are not married? In these cases, the process will be faster. This is because the parents, their legal representatives, and the courts can focus on child custody alone.

Child custody can be decided in two ways: First, it can be decided through negotiations between the couples and their respective legal representatives, or through collaborative proceedings like mediation. Second, it can be decided by the court.

According to the website of these Fort Worth child custody attorneys, many couples can’t come up with a compromise, so they end up using the second option to resolve disagreements regarding child custody.

But how does the court decide? The court primarily considers the primary caretaker of the child and works from there. The primary caretaker of the child refers to the parent who has more responsibilities when it comes to childcare, including the following aspects:

  • Bond with the child, such as bedtime reading, and doing extracurricular activities
  • Domestic responsibilities, such as doing laundry, ironing clothes, and packing school lunches
  • Hygiene needs of the child, such as bathing, brushing teeth, changing diapers, and styling hair
  • Medical needs of the child, such as taking the child to dentists, doctors, and orthodontists
  • Nutritional needs of the child, such as feeding, and preparing meals and milk
  • Other parental responsibilities, such as taking to and picking up the child from school or recreational areas

Another factor is the best interest of child, so the parents that are more capable of taking care of their children’s needs are more likely to get custody. These needs vary, but typically, they involve food, shelter, education, healthcare, and other aspects that may help the child have a dignified life.

How are Child Custody and Visitation Rights Cases Determined?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally trying time, but the situation can become much difficult to handle when children are involved. Divorcing couples will need to make crucial decisions regarding child care and shared parental responsibilities. However, most people often come to an impasse in the face of such decisions and will need assistance from a third party to ensure that all matters are properly settled in the best interest of the child. When the spouses are unable to come to an amicable agreement, child custody and visitation rights are determined by the court.

Child custody cases that are brought before family court are not so easily determined. The process requires a judge to consider a variety of factors before coming to a final decision. It is extremely important that the court decides in favor of an arrangement that will uphold the best interest of the child, allowing him or her to continue fostering a healthy relationship with both parents. Generally, a judge can decide between several different scenarios.

Awarding joint physical custody is usually done for situations where the parents live close together. If there are geographical constraints, a judge will allow sole physical custody to the parent considered to have been the more active caregiver while the other parent is allowed visitation rights. The other parent is also allowed legal rights to play an active role in making crucial decisions regarding the upbringing of the child. Meanwhile, sole physical and legal custody is awarded to one parent when circumstances show that the other party is unfit to provide proper care to the child. If the court finds that the other parent could endanger the child due to instances of abuse, drug addiction, alcoholism, and other destructive behaviors, he or she would be stripped of any right to visit the child.

The Woodlands child custody lawyers at BB Law Group PLLC’s website points out the typical determining factors of a child custody dispute. The parents’ individual income and earning opportunities are among the considerations examined by a judge hearing a child custody case. Living arrangements, health, age, and lifestyle choices are part of these considerations as well. Most importantly, a judge will also take into consideration the preference of the child involved in the situation to ensure that his or her emotional well-being is prioritized throughout the process.

Once a child custody dispute is settled through family court, both spouses are expected to uphold their end of the arrangement determined by the judge. When this decision is violated by one parent, the other may seek out assistance to settle any difficult. According to the website of the Law Offices of Baden V. Mansfield, instances that might require the legal assistance and enforcement include instances when the non-custodial parent goes over their allotted time with the child or when the custodial parent moves away with the child without proper warning.