Mother's Rights in Child Custody
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What Are a Mother's Rights in Child Custody?
In any child custody hearing, the mother of the child has certain rights and obligations regarding custody of the child. However, in determining child custody, every court is required to use the child’s best interest standard. Custody will be determined in a way that serves to further the child’s development.
Many people simply assume that the mother will be automatically granted full custody of the children in a divorce case. However, if a judge concludes that it is not in the child’s best interest to grant sole custody to the mother, they will devise a custody arrangement that may better suits the child’s needs. Still, in many cases the mother is granted physical custody of the child because the child is often more emotionally attached to the mother than the father.
When determining child custody and visitation schedules, the mother’s rights include:
- The right to interact with her child or children during the times specified in the court custody order
- The right to schedule activities during times when she has custody of the child
- The right to be free from the father’s control, interruptions, or threats during visitation appointments
- The right to notify a judge or the police if the custody order has been violated in any way
- The right to petition the court to enforce changes to a custody order or visitation schedule
- The right to obtain an injunction in order to prevent the father from transporting the child out of state
Thus, a mother’s rights in child custody often overlap with the duties and responsibilities of the father. This means that both parties must cooperate in order to create an agreeable child-rearing environment.
Does the Mother Have Any Obligations with Regards to Child Custody?
In addition to their rights in a child custody setting, mothers also have several obligations to both the child and the other parent. These are also called “non-rights”, and involve certain actions that the mother cannot take when interacting with the child and any other parties.
The mother’s child custody obligations may include:
- The obligation to obey court custody and visitation orders at all time
- The obligation to continually serve the child’s best interest when making important child-rearing decisions
- The obligation to report any instances of abuse or domestic violence
- The obligation to interact with the child’s father in a cooperative and peaceable manner
Thus, a mother does not have the right to break the law or engage in negligent, reckless, or abusive behavior. Also, a court will often consider whether the mother’s social conduct negatively affects the child’s emotional behavior.
Can Court Custody Orders Be Changed or Modified?
Yes- if the court determines that it is necessary to change or modify a custody order, they will do so as soon as possible. Again, any changes to an existing child custody order must serve the child’s best interest before the interests of either parent.
Child custody orders are commonly changed under the following circumstances:
- One of the parents has abused or physicially injured the child
- One of the parents must relocate to a different geographic region, and this move will effect visitation schedules (for example, if the parent has taken a new job in a different state)
- The child has developed different needs over the months or years
Child custody orders are often issued in a way that anticipates such changes as mentioned above. Custody orders are not always permanent and may be modified if a parent petitions the court for a modification.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Mother’s Rights in Child Custody?
As the mother of a child in a divorce setting, you have numerous rights with regards to child custody. If you do not understand your rights to custody, you may wish to contact a family lawyer for advice. Your attorney can help advise you of your custody rights under your state’s laws. You may wish to hire a child custody lawyer before the hearings begin, so that they can assist you and represent you throughout the custody process.
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Last Modified: 03-09-2015 12:05 PM PDT
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