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Child Custody Laws: An Overview

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The custody of a child is the greatest responsibility that a parent has. It is, in some ways, the most important decision that any parent will make in his or her lifetime. The custody laws protect the parent’s rights, however, and provide that custody decisions, including choices of schools, will be made for the best interest of the children involved.

Most children between the ages of six months and fourteen years are presumed to be in the custody of the parent they live with. That is, when a child reaches the age of six months, then he or she can be considered a ward of the state and the parents no longer have the right to determine where that child lives.

Before the age of six months, however, a parent may make an agreement to share custody with another parent. In that case, the parents may agree on a schedule that will be followed. For example, one parent may have the child every other weekend, or one parent may have the child every week, or one parent may have the child one night a week and the other parent every other week. These agreements, called legal parenting time arrangements, are more flexible than the normal court-ordered custody arrangement.

If a court determines that the parents can’t work out their differences and they are not able to agree on custody arrangements for the child, then the court can make a custody determination.

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You should read these sections of the custody laws before you file for divorce because they determine the child custody law firm  of the children in the event that you and your spouse can’t work out your differences. The custody laws also provide the procedures that the court must follow to make custody determinations.

Custody Laws: A Parent’s Rights

The most important part of custody law is the parent’s rights. The general rule is that the parent who spends more time with the children has a presumption of being the better parent. The court will generally follow the parent who spends more time with the children.

The best interests of the children, however, can override this presumption. So, a court must consider the best interests of the children when making custody decisions.

The general rule is that the parent who spends the most time with the children is considered the primary custodial parent. The court, however, can make an exception if there are compelling reasons why the other parent should have custody.