DIVORCE & CHILD CUSTODY
Imagine this, you have been living in a home with your beautiful children, watching them blossom, growing, maturing, and developing, both physically and emotionally, from the tiny little seed they once were. In this process, you have gained a connection with them, a connection so deep that they have become a part or for some, even the whole of you. It is as if, you see your heart beating outside your body, in the smiles and stories of your children.
Years pass, and one day you wake up, imagining your activities for the day to pan out as every day does, but suddenly your spouse drops a bomb on you – “I WANT A DIVORCE.”
For some of you will, you’ve seen it coming, but on the contrary set, are individuals that find themselves immersed in a state of shock.
“MY CHILDREN, WHAT ABOUT THEM”, you hear your mind say. “Am I going to lose them?” your thought processes in so much worriment.
Typically, where two people who have had children are going through a divorce, decisions pertaining the children must be made. These decisions are always made with the highest regard placed towards the best interests of the child, and this is determined by the following primary factors:
a. The child’s welfare;
b. The child’s safety; and
c. The child’s health.
It is important to note that the court weighs the factors above in a conjunctive fashion, and not in a disjunctive manner. Therefore, upon tackling ALL the factors above, there are a few different types of custodial arrangements that a custody agreement can have, which I will be explaining below:
1. Legal Custody
The term legal custody refers to granting the authority to a parent or parents to make decisions relating to the child’s welfare, safety, and health. In a joint custody situation, both parents are given the right and therefore, both parents are required to discuss all matters prior to formulating a decision on the same.
2. Physical Custody
Physical custody is the terminology used in the legal world to determine the care and control of the child. This would include details regarding where the child will live throughout the year, as well as, the length and duration of time that each parent will be allowed to spend time with their child.
3. Access and Visitation Rights
In some cases, the courts may decide to grant sole custody to one parent,
thus, only allowing the other parent limited access and visitation rights.
If such a situation arises, the non - custodial parent would only be allowed to visit the child at specific times as per the decision of the court, and such visitations will be conducted with the presence of the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent will not be allowed to keep the child overnight.
As the penultimate goal of family law is to maintain the relationship between parents and their children despite the occurrence of a breakdown in a marriage, more often than not, courts are sided towards granting joint custody, compared to sole custody.
However, this is not always the case. The amount of time that one parent is allowed to spend with their child would depend on various factors primarily relating towards the best interests of the child.