During a custody case if joint physical or shared custody is ordered by the court, does the Court designate a primary residence for the child or it is up to the parents to figure it out? Also, if shared custody is ordered is it automatic that the parent with the higher income will be put on child support to make up for the difference. I make twice what my spouse makes and we live in Salisbury, Maryland. My spouse is asking for sole physical custody and I am pushing for joint. No history of abuse, no drugs, just disagreement over finances and she moved out taking away my three years old with her....
The courts prefer for parents to decide what is in their child's best interest, but if that is not possible, a judge will make that determination. The Judge will decide the child's primary residence if the parents are unable to agree. The standard for determining custody is "the best interest of the child". There are numerous factors that judge's will consider when determining custody. One of the factors is the ability of each parent to provide for the needs of the child. The fact that one parent makes more money than the other parent does not determine who is granted custody. An attorney can be helpful in putting together a strategy that will increase the likelihood of being granted custody. The longer you wait to get an attorney involved, the harder it will be for the attorney to help you.
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I agree with Mr. Blattner's excellent response. I would add to the response that the following are the factors the court uses to determine what custody arrangement is in the child's best interest (if the parties cannot agree then the court will determine what days of the week the child is living with whom).
Primary Care Giver - Who is the person who takes care of the child? Who feeds the child, shops for their clothes, gets them up for school, bathes them, and arranges day care? Who does the child turn to when they get hurt?
• Fitness - What are the psychological and physical capacities of the parties seeking custody? The court may also consider evidence of abuse by a party against the other parent, the party's spouse, or any child residing within the party's household (including another child).
• Character and Reputation
• Agreements - Is there a custody agreement already in place?
• Ability to Maintain Family Relationships - Who will be best able to help the child keep family relationships? Who is going to let the child speak with their ex-mother-in-law, for example? Who will not penalize the child for any bad action on the part of the other parent?
• Child Preference - The decision of the court may be reversed on appeal if the judge will not hear the child's preference. However, the judge may choose to interview the child outside the presence of the parents. A child as young as 5 or 6 years of age may be heard. Though it is rare, the court will hear from a child under 7 years. The child's maturity, and whether the child can tell the truth from fiction will guide the decision whether a child may be heard. A child of at least 10 or 12 years of age is certainly entitled to have their opinions heard and given weight in legal proceedings about custody. Additionally, the court has the power to appoint an attorney for the child in contested cases.
• Material Opportunity - Which parent has the financial resources to give the child more things?
• Age, Health and Gender of Child
• Residences of Parents and Opportunity for Visitation - How close do the parents live to each other? How close do they live to members of the child's extended family? Which parent lives closest to the child's school and social circle?
• Length of Separation- how long has the parent been separated from the child?
• Any Prior Abandonment or Surrender of Custody - Is there a history of one parent walking out and leaving the other parent to cope with the child and the home? Which parent left when you last broke up?
• Religious Views - These will be important in the court's decision only if you can show that religious views affect the physical or emotional well being of the child.
• Disability - A party's disability is only relevant to a custody decision if the disability affects the best interest of the child.
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During a custody case, a court usually like it when parents can make their own decisions. If the two of you can figure out primary residency of the child while this case is being handled the better it is for both of you. Now if you want to know whether a court would order joint physical custody, I don't think a court would do that. Courts usually want to create a sense of consistency and permanency concerning a child's living environment. Joint physical custody, courts feel can be too disruptive to a child's development. A court most likely would order temporary physical custody for one parent and visitation for the other.
Child support is paid to the physical custodian of the child.
From what you have said, if the two parents can get along and there are no problems, you have a good chance for joint legal custody which means the two of you share equally in the decision making for the child such as education, medical and so on. However, as I said before, joint physical custody may prove difficult.
Good luck. Hire a good attorney.
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I agree with the responses. The biggest part is making sure you are doing what's in the best interest of the child. An attorney can review that standard with you so that you can be prepared for trial.
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