In family law, child custody is used to define the legal guardianship of a child under the age of 18. Each state has its own child custody laws, but in general, courts make their decisions based on what is in the best interest for the child. There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody refers to which parent the child will live with on a daily basis. Some courts will grant joint physical custody to both parents. This works best when the parents live near each other. In other situations, one parent will receive custody while the other parent gets visitation rights.
Legal custody means the right for the parent to make major decisions for the child regarding health, education, and welfare. As with physical custody, legal custody can be awarded to one parent or both.
Child custody and child support are two of the most contentious issues in family law. Parents that are in the midst of a complicated divorce may find themselves in a heated court battle over them. In order to fully understand child custody and child support in terms of family law, it is important to first define each term.
Child support is court-ordered payments that must be paid on a regular basis from one parent to the other. In order to assist with the financial costs of raising a child, the court will usually order the noncustodial parent to pay child support. This amount varies from case to case, and each State has its own guidelines on how child support is calculated. Child support payments must be paid until the child has reached the age of 18. If a parent fails or refuses to pay child support, they may face legal consequences such as wage garnishment, seizure of property, and even jail time.