Orange County couples who are going through a divorce know that the process can be difficult and emotionally draining. But, divorce is even more challenging for children who face the possibility of living without one parent on a day-to-day basis. This is why child custody decisions are among the most difficult made in a divorce and why divorcing couples should be well informed when it comes to their custody rights.
Generally, there are two types of custody: physical and legal.
Physical custody refers to where the child will live and which parent the child will live with. The parent the child lives with is considered the custodial parent. The other parent will usually be given visitation rights unless other elements, such as abuse, are at issue.
Legal custody refers to the responsibilities and rights a parent has to make decisions for the child. This includes religious affiliation, education and medical care.
So how does one parent increase the chance of getting custody of his or her child? First, a court almost always makes that decision based on what is in the child's best interests. The parent who is actively involved with a child's life on an ongoing basis -- especially when it comes to everyday life, including school and other activities -- will be seen by the court as more involved and have a better chance of gaining custody.
Moreover, the parent who is seen as the most stable will have the better chance. This does not necessarily refer to finances. For example, the court may see that a parent who has more money is actually less capable because of any variety of personal problems that are not being addressed.
Finally, an attorney who best knows family law and is experienced with the court can be a distinct advantage when it comes to gaining child custody.
Source: WOOD TV, "Answer to your custody questions," Sep. 17, 2013