A custody battle is a legal process in which the parties involved in the care of a minor child are evaluated to find out where that minor child should live and who should provide the majority of his care. A custody battle typically takes place because there is more than one party who wants to care for the child. A judge in a court of law will determine where the child will live and what adults will be responsible for raising the child to adulthood.
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A custody battle involves extensive research and cross-examination by all parties involved and associated with the care and concern of a minor child. Typically, a social worker or friend of the court will privately question the adults involved in the case and witnesses who interact with child, then the child alone and then in front of all parties involved in the case in front of a family law judge inside a courtroom. Parties will be asked questions such as how they go about the day-to-day care of the child, what they want most for the child, what they feel is the best way to discipline the child, and what social interactions they allow the child to have. If the judge feels the child is in immediate danger during the custody battle, the child may be placed into a the home of a relative or a foster care provider until the case is resolved.
In a custody battle, a child's welfare and well-being are ultimately at stake. Typically, a custody battle involves parents of the minor child, but it can also involve other family members. Where the child will be raised and cared for best as well as supported financially are among the things the social worker, child protective services and the judge will consider when determining where a child will live.
The two main types of custody are sole physical custody and residential custody. Physical custody battles are often between two parents, or parents and other family members. This type of custody battle involves both parties stating their desire to care for the child. For example, the mother may have actual physical custody; the father may have joint custody or only visitation. If the latter, the mother has all rights to make decisions for the child. If the father disagrees with an original judge's ruling, he will have to continue the custody battle by appealing the matter. In cases involving residential custody, the child is placed in the home of one of the parents only temporarily or for certain periods throughout the year as assigned by the judge. Having residential custody does not mean that parent or family member has sole physical custody.
Custody battles are sometimes widely covered by the media. Many times one parent involved in a custody case takes the child without the permission of the other, and kidnapping charges are filed. Children who are taken away from the parent who has custody can feel torn and confused and unsure of whom they want to be with. Parents or family members who participate in kidnapping or hiding a minor child from the other parent or caregiver will be punished to the fullest extent of the law and could face criminal charges.
The potential benefit to the child involved in a custody case is that the child will be carefully and thoroughly evaluated by social workers and legal professionals to determine who is best suited to care for him and accommodate his lifestyle. Custody battles may involve social workers---and in some cases even child protective services---who perform extensive assessments, visit the homes of all involved parties and provide feedback to the judge, so she can make a final determination of the custody case.
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