If my spouse and I get a divorce or legal separation, who will get custody of our child or children?
Custody of the minor children is typically labeled as "legal custody" and "physical custody".
      Legal custody is the right of a parent to participate in the decisions regarding the child's health, education and welfare, i.e., healthcare providers, schools, obtaining a driver's license and/or passport, religious preferences, etc.
      Physical custody involves where the child will live in order to secure the health, safety and welfare of the child. If the parties are not able to resolve this issue amicably between themselves, the Court will intervene and make those decisions. The Court will usually look at the parents' respective roles during the marriage (history), the current living circumstances of either party, the needs of the children, the parents' work schedules, distance between respective residences, etc. There are many factors which the Court may consider regarding this issue, and will sometimes enlist the help of outside agencies for further assistance in evaluating the child's best interests. For example, psychologists and therapists are sometimes asked to interview the children and parents for further insight into the structure of the family in the past, and to determine the best interests of the child in the future. History of domestic violence in the home by parents, either toward one another or to the child, is a significant factor, as well as the child's preference when they are of sufficient age and maturity to make that decision.

Prev - Back to Frequently Asked Questions - Next