Child Custody Law FAQ

1. What exactly is child custody law?

A. Child custody law governs the custody of children, especially in cases of divorce or separation. It defines the parental rights of each parent, determining who will have full custody and what sort of visitation rights are deserved.

2. How is child custody typically determined?

A. Child custody is usually determined by the judge based on what is best for the children involved. The judge will determine who has been the sole care giver for the child up to the present time and then will consider who is best able to care for the child in the future. The decision will be based on these and other things.

3. Is visitation always given to a non-custodial parent?

A. Since children should have contact with both parents, most judges do give visitation rights to non-custodial parents. However, if that non-custodial parent is in any way a danger to the child, visitation will most likely not be given.

4. Do grandparents have any rights related to child custody?

A. Often times, it depends on the exact situation. Grandparents may seek custody if the children are in any way unsafe with their parents. Also, grandparents can receive child support if they have custody. Grandparents can also seek visitation rights.

5. Should an attorney be hired for a child custody case?

A. Yes. An attorney should be hired if possible, because he or she will know the ins and outs of child custody. In a situation where something so valuable as custody of your children is at stake, you should have a knowledgeable attorney fighting on your side.

6. Will the judge take the wishes of the children into account to determine custody?

A. If the child is above a certain age, usually the judge will hear the child out. He or she will listen closely to the child's wishes and the reasoning behind those wishes. However, the best interest of the child usually takes precedence over any wishes of anyone involved.

7. Will the marital status of the child or children's parents play a role in determining child custody?

A. While a judge may pay attention to the fact that one parent is more settled than the other, typically, marital status plays no role in the custody decision made by the judge. What is best for the child will have everything to do with the custody decision.

8. For what reasons would a non-custodial parent be refused visitation?

A. There are rare cases of a non-custodial parent being refused any visitation. Most of those cases involve a threat or danger from the non-custodial parent. This might include past allegations or convictions of abuse, drug or alcohol addiction or the knowledge that the non-custodial parent would take the child out of state.

9. Can child custody rulings be changed or modified?

A. Yes. If new evidence is brought to the table, the attorney may request that the child custody ruling be modified. If one party is unhappy with the ruling made by the court, they may appeal that ruling and receive another decision. However, in all cases, what is best for the child will always be considered first.

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