What types of custody are there?
During marriage, both parents have equal rights with their children, both as to time and decision making. When the marriage ends, either the parents share decision making, called shared parenting, or one parent is allowed to make all major decisions, called sole custody.
How is custody determined?
If the parents cannot reach an agreement on sole custody versus shared parenting, the court must make a custody order. The court is obligated to determine what is in the best interest of the children by reviewing a number of factors relevant to raising children. Sometimes a parenting investigator or guardian ad litem is utilized to assist with this determination.
Will I lose time with my children?
Custody does not dictate parenting time. That is a separate issue. The time each parent has can be as much as 50% or as little as a couple times per week and time on the weekend. There are a number of factors used to determine the amount of parenting time for each parent.
Is there an age where children can decide with which parent they want to live?
No. There used to be an age, but that was changed many years ago. Now, children have input in parenting time. The more mature the child and the more valid their reasons for their preferences, the more their desires will be considered. However, if the court believes those opinions have been influenced by a parent, they will be discounted.
Can a parent obtain emergency custody?
It is rare for the court to grant emergency custody. The circumstances required for this are imminent physical danger to or serious neglect of the child.
How can I require the other parent to only see the children with supervision? Similar to emergency custody, obtaining supervised parenting time requires demonstrating the other parent represents physical danger or neglect to the children.
Can I relinquish my parental rights?
Only if the other parent is remarried and their new spouse is willing to adopt the child.
For an extensive discussion of child custody, see the Child Custody Report.