Years ago, the family law courts gave custody of the children to the mother. The courts believed that the mother was the best parent to provide care for small children. All states changed the laws to allow fathers to seek custody of the children. Now, judges base their custody decisions on the children’s best interests. The decision no longer rests on the gender of the parent. The court looks at each parent’s fitness to take care of the children.
But even today, the mother receives physical custody of the children after a separation or divorce. And the father has liberal visitation rights. Both parents agree to this decision because they think the mother has more time for the children. And the mother understands the needs of the children.
In most states, there are statutes that grant an unmarried mother physical custody of a child. The father can petition the court for visitation rights. In most cases, the father will receive reasonable visits with the child. A visitation schedule lays out the dates and times for the father to pick up and drop off the child. If the mother is unable to care for the child, the father is the next person to receive physical custody.
A child’s best interest is always an important issue in determining the primary caretaker. The family law courts look at the following factors when making its decision:
• The physical and mental health of the mother and father
• A stable home environment
• No drugs and alcohol in the home
• No abusive behavior apparent in the home
• Religion and culture
• The children’s age and sex
• Support from other members of the household and extended family
• The parent the older children would like to live with
A family law attorney will be familiar with the family law statutes of your state. If you are having child custody issues, the Jackson Law Firm may be able to help you.
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