Despite the differences in some of the factors which states consider in determining the issue of child custody and visitation rights, one doctrine or principle is always observed: everything should always be in the child’s best interests.

Custody is usually awarded by courts to that parent who is more capable of establishing a sound and healthy relationship between the children and the other (non-custodial) parent. This is because courts believe that the influence, care and love of both parents are very important in the child’s growth and development. Following this line of thinking, many courts also therefore try to award custody to both parents (joint custody), as much as possible, but only on the condition that both parents are fit to care and be with the child.

Joint custody may be:

  • Joint physical custody, wherein the parents are given equal amount of time to spend with their children. This is possible if the parents reside not far from one another so that traveling form one parent’s house to another will not be much trouble to the children
  • Joint legal custody, is when both parents are given rights by the court to make decisions for the child in matters like education, health care, religion, and so forth
  • Joint legal and physical custody, is when parents share equal time with their children, as well as share in the decision making in all matters that will affect their children’s overall development

If there is proof that will show the court that one parent is unfit to be with or to care for the child, then sole custody will most likely be the court’s decision; however, if both parents are proven unfit, then child custody may be awarded by the court to the child’s guardian, a care-giver or to the government.

By unfit, the parent may either be suffering from a medical condition that renders him/her incapable of providing the necessary care and attention needed by the child or he/she may be physically or verbally abusive, is teaching the child immoral and illegal acts, is an alcoholic and/or is involved in drug-related crimes.

Often, the burden of proof that will implicate the parent as guilty of any of those mentioned above is upon the shoulder of the fit and able parent. Proving that the other parent is unfit and will cause more harm to the child is not an easy task, though. With the help of one of the highly-qualified Raleigh divorce attorneys, exposing the other parent’s faults can be done in accordance to court rules and may, therefore, merit the court’s favorable decision.

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