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Who Has Legal Rights to a Child?

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Who Has Legal Rights to a Child?

Child custody rights can often be very different in each situation. All child custody rights are decided according to the child’s best interests standard. That is, the child’s needs and requirements always take priority over the desires and preferences of any adult parties. That being said, legal rights to a child can often be acquired by:

  • The mother: traditionally, courts have assigned primary custody rights to the mother, with the father providing child support.
  • The father: The father of a child can also obtain custody rights, especially in cases where the mother is unable or unwilling to assume responsibilities for the child.
  • Stepparents: Step parents commonly assume child custody rights in cases involving divorce and remarriage.
  • Grandparents: Besides the biological parents, grandparents’ child custody rights also play a major role in some custody claims.
  • Close relatives and other persons: Courts tend to prefer assigning custody to the biological parents, but in cases where this is not possible, other parties may be considered.

Thus, child custody determinations can involve several different parties. In many cases, legal rights to a child will change over time as conditions and factors change with the parents and the child.

What Types of Rights Are Involved with Child Custody?

Child custody rights involve many different responsibilities and rights. Some rights associated with child custody include:

  • The right to have the child live with the parent ("physical custody")
  • The right to make decisions on behalf of the child ("legal custody"); this can include decisions like educational choices, religious upbringing, name changes, and other important matters

Along with these rights, the custodial parent (the party that has been granted custody of the child) has various responsibilities, including:

  • Providing basic necessities for the child (such as food, clothing, housing, etc.)
  • Assisting the child with various legal decisions if necessary

In some instances, the custodial parent may be responsible for some legal violations committed by the child. Visitation rights can also be an important part of a child custody arrangement

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Custody Rights?

Child custody and visitation rights can often involve an analysis of many overlapping factors. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you have any concerns or needs regarding child custody. Your attorney will be able to guide you and inform you of the options available for you and your family. Your lawyer can also provide representation in the event that a lawsuit or legal claims needs to be pursued.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-08-2014 11:05 AM PST

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