Child Custody

What is Child Custody and What Does it Mean

The term Child Custody in Family Law is a defined term; it means who is entitled to make important decisions concerning the child.

Custody can be given to one person, jointly and to someone other than the biological parent.

Some important decisions that are made on behalf of the child are:

1.  education;

2.  religion;

3.  extracurricular activities;

4.  medical issues;

5.  where the child will live;

6.  the child's name.

De Facto Custody is an important concept in family law where the parent who moves out of the matrimonial home where the child resides will be giving up his or her custody rights by virtue of leaving the home.  That is why many separated spouses reside in the home together with the children while still separated.

Joint custody is where both parents will have equal rights to make important decisions.  When there is a high level of conflict between parents and the they are unable to work together to make decisions the court may order a professional such as a parenting coordinator to assist in making the decisions.  The court will also order joint custody when either parent would use custody to marginalize the other parent in the children' s lives.

The views of the child may be considered but the amount of weight given to the child's preferences depends on the age of the child.  Typically the preference of a teenager is given significantly more weight and very little weight is given to a young child  and no weight is given to a child that has been manipulated by one parent.  

Judges have a very negative view of a parents who manipulate their children and who decide to bring a child to court proceedings.  Children should not be exposed to conflict because of the detrimental impact it may have on them not only in the present but also into the future.