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Child Custody

 

You may file a Petition For Custody and Support Of Minor Children if you can answer “yes” to any of the following: 

•Are you married to the other parent and no action for divorce, legal separation,
  or annulment is pending in any other court? 

•If not married, have you and the other parent signed a Voluntary Declaration of
  Paternity regarding the minor children, and no action regarding the children has
  been filed in any other court? 

•Have you and the other parent been determined to be the parents in a juvenile
  or governmental child support case? 

A child custody case will not divorce you nor establish a parental relationship, it will only address your issues of child custody, visitation, and child support.

 Child custody can also be addressed through a divorce or a paternity case. 

When people think of child custody, they are usually referring to physical custody.  However, when the court addresses custody, it is broken down into legal custody and physical custody. 

When parents exercise joint legal custody, they share in the responsibility and are supposed to confer in good faith on matters concerning the health, education, and welfare of the children.  This usually includes any decisions regarding: 

•Enrollment in or leaving a particular private or public school or daycare center
            •Participation in particular religious activities or institutions
            •Beginning or ending of psychiatric, psychological, or other mental health
              counseling or therapy
            •Selection of a doctor, dentist, or other health professional (except in emergency
             situations)
            •Participation in extracurricular activities
            •Out-of-country or out-of-state travel 

If the parents cannot agree, one parent must file for a hearing so that a judge can rule upon whatever issue is outstanding to obtain a resolution. 

As to physical custody, the parents can be awarded joint physical custody or one parent can be awarded sole physical custody.  In either case, the parent who is deemed the secondary custodial parent or non-custodial parent is usually awarded a specific visitation schedule setting forth their custodial time with the children. 

The issue of child custody can be modified until the time that the children have reached the age of eighteen, or, if the children are nineteen and still attending high school any time that there is a problem with the current custody orders if the circumstances warrant it.


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Last modified: 05/10/07.
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