For Lawrenceville residents, there are numerous decisions that must be made when parties divorce, including distribution of property, spousal support, and when children are involved, child support and custody. It can sometimes be difficult for parents to agree on a custody arrangement that is suitable for both parties. In such cases, it is necessary for a court to determine the child custody arrangement after considering the child's best interests.
A woman who had enlisted in the military filed for divorce from her husband in 2010. The couple was married for seven years and was able to agree on all aspects of the divorce, except the custody of their two children, who were living with the mother at the time. After considering many factors, the judge ruled to grant the father physical custody, while the mother has visitation rights and must pay child support.
The judge's decision was based on the uncertainty regarding the possibility of the mother's deployment pursuant to the military and her desire to start a new business, as the court felt these circumstances made it difficult for her to provide a stable home for the children. However, in the state where the divorce was granted, there exists a law that prevents courts from basing a child custody determination on a parent's military obligations.
When parents divorce, the determination of custody of their children can be made by agreement or by a court if they are unable to agree. The court will base its decision on the child's best interest. There are many factors invoked in making this determination, but the most pertinent to the case like the one above is the need for continuation of a stable home environment. The most common custody arrangement involves one parent having physical custody of the children, while the other parent maintains legal custody and visitation rights. Physical custody means that the child will live primarily with that parent, while legal custody means that a parent is involved in decisions concerning the child's welfare, education, religion and health care.
The best interests of the child is always the ultimate determination when devising a child custody arrangement. Both parents must be aware of the factors involved in such a decision and their rights and responsibilities in any custody arrangement.
Source: Star Herald, "Military mom fights for custody under new law," Sarah Schulz, Dec. 26, 2012