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Three key questions about child custody

When you and your spouse decide to divorce, your first thought will probably be about your kids. They become the focal point of the process. Below are three key questions that may be asked as you move toward a legal split.

1. Can you decide who gets custody?

You can. You and your spouse have a chance to come to an agreement. The court has to sign off on it, but it can be your choice. This power only goes out of your hands if you can’t decide and the judge is forced to do so.

There are exceptions to this rule, but it is true in most cases.

2. Would custody ever go to a third party?

This is not common, but it does happen on occasion. A grandparent may get custody, for example, instead of a mother or a father. While these people may be free to pursue such an arrangement, it takes a unique set of circumstances for the court to give the child to any relative other than a parent.

3. What do courts look at to make custody decisions?

If you and your spouse can’t agree, the court will look at many factors. These can include things like who is the primary caregiver, what is in the child’s best interests, what the child wants, where he or she goes to school, the child’s health needs, and more.

The best solution in most cases is for the child to still be involved with both parents. As you, your spouse, and the court work to figure out a viable plan, make sure your rights are always respected. If you fear losing your child, look into all of the legal options you have.

Source: FIndLaw, “Deciding Who Gets Custody FAQs,” accessed Dec. 01, 2016

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