Child custody law is the law that guides the determination of which of the parents to be granted custody of a child and what type of custody in the case of divorce, annulment, separation or death of parents. Just like every jurisdiction has its own matrimonial law, every jurisdiction also has a child custody law.
For a clearer appreciation of this topic of discussion, it will be pertinent to briefly define child custody, child support and the types of child custody.
Child custody is principally concerned with the guardianship. Child custody consist of the legal custody which is the right to make decisions about the child and physical custody which is the right to accommodate, provide and care for the child.
Child support also know as child maintenance is an ongoing periodic payment made by a parent or parents for the financial benefit of a child, sequel to the end of a marriage or other relationships.
Child custody can either be joint or sole custody, it can either be legal or physical custody. Child custody consist of the legal custody which is the right to make decisions about the child and physical custody which is the right to accommodate, provide and care for the child.
Note that there can be temporary custody . This is where custody is granted a parent pending the determination of a divorce proceeding and child custody trial. There can also be third-party custody. This is where the court considers it proper to put the child under the custody of a person other than either of the parents if the court feels it will be in the best interest of the child.
NOW THE QUESTION IS, WHERE THE PARENTS ARE NOT MARRIED TO EACH OTHER, WHO IS ENTITLED TO THE CUSTODY OF THE CHILD?
When a child is born to an unmarried mother, the mother is automatically granted sole custodianship.The father has no legal right to see their child without a court order. Legally, there is no presumption of paternity; this means that such fathers are not, by default, assumed to be biologically related to their children.
It should be noted that each state/jurisdiction has a way of handling cases of child custodianship in the case of unmarried parents. some states sometimes prefer to award joint custody on the ground that one parent will have the primary custody. some states will prefer to grant just joint legal custody to both parents. Note that legal custody deals with right to make decisions about the child.
In a nutshell, the issue of child custody both in the case of married and unmarried couples are dependent on the law of the particular jurisdiction. There is no general principle as regards child custodianship.
Note also that in the award of custody of a child by a court, the interest of the child is of utmost importance. However, it must be understood that the welfare of a child is not only the material provisions in the house, but it is more of the happiness of the child and his or her psychological and intellectual growth and development.
In our next post, we shall be discussing the issue of child custody in the case of an adopted child. You may drop your contribution in the comment section