Child Custody

The issue of who retains custody of the children in a divorce and the amount of child support to be paid remains problematic for the courts.

At the time of the divorce, the court determines which parent has custody of the children. Custody is referred to as "conservatorship" in certain states (such as Texas). Anyone with an interest in the child can be appointed as the conservator or custodian, but typically the parents are appointed (unless both are deceased, or their parental rights have been terminated). The goal of the court is to provide the child with a day-to-day caretaker who has the authority to make all of the decisions that affect the child.

The judge in a divorce case has the authority to make determinations regarding all of the issues affecting the children. These include custody, visitation, support, school and holiday schedules. The spouses and the children themselves can voice their opinions, but the final authority rests with the court, who must consider the best interests of the child.

Sidebar: "Best interests of the child" is a phrase that is frequently used in child custody matters. It is the standard used by the court to determine what arrangements are to a child's greatest benefit.