Who Has Custody of a Child?

If joint custody is awarded, the child lives with both parents equally. The custodial parent has the legal and physical authority to make major decisions for the child. The non-custodial parent has the right to visit the child but no right to physical custody. Joint custody is typically granted after consultation and agreement by both parents. 

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In other states 

In some states, a mother has the right to ask for custody of a child if she thinks the child is hers. In these cases, the legal father must sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity and receive an Order of Filiation from the court before the child can be legally listed as his or hers. The legal father’s name must also appear on the child’s birth certificate. If the legal father and the birth mother cannot agree, the child’s birth mother’s spouse is presumed to be the child’s legal parent. 

If a child is living in another state, such as Virginia, the parent can still file for custody in that state. This is possible if the child has a significant connection to the state. 

In a state without a home state 

In some cases, when the home state of a child is not appropriate, the child’s state of residence may be the proper forum to decide custody and visitation issues. In these cases, the child’s residence must be deemed a “significant connection” to the state. This connection could include family members, teachers, physicians, or others with a direct connection to the child. 

Home states are a common source of confusion when dealing with child custody. Generally, a child’s home state is the state where they have lived at least six months before the custody proceedings began. This period includes the child’s birth and any temporary absence from the state. 

In a state with shared custody 

In a state with shared custody of a child, parents share both legal and physical custody of the child. This arrangement means that both parents share time with the child and make major decisions about its upbringing. Although the parents may not always agree on the same decisions, they should communicate to avoid any complications. They should also work together to make decisions for the benefit of the child. In most cases, the child will live with one parent or the other. 

If both parents agree to the custody arrangement, the court can approve it. However, the agreement must be legally binding and enforceable. In some states, parents can agree on their own without the help of a judge. They can then turn the agreement over to the judge for approval. The judge will then sign it. If the parents can’t afford an attorney, the court will assign one.