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China divorce law and child custody rules

Child Custody Basics
If there are children involved in your divorce, the divorce courts will make child custody arrangements. Most states grant parents equal custody rights if it's in the best interest of the child.

With equal child custody rights, both parents have joint child custody, which may include both legal and physical custody. It's also possible for one parent to have sole physical child custody, while the noncustodial parent shares legal custody and gets generous child visitation rights.

In many states, the courts must consider the child's wishes - if he or she is old enough to comprehend making a decision. The parents' wishes and the relationships between the child and parents, siblings and other people that are involved in the family unit may also be considered. Each state has specific child custody guidelines that help determine custody.

Child Custody Arrangements
Depending on the circumstances and state guidelines, the divorce courts will decide on a child custody arrangement that will best provide for the child. During divorce or legal separation, the courts may grant temporary child custody rights to one of the parents.

These orders may not stay once the divorce is finalized but help give the child an established schedule and routine during the divorce process.

If there is more than one child, typically the children live together for moral support, but the court may separate the children between parents. It may also be possible for the divorce courts to award child custody to a third party or close family member.

Typically, the biological parents are considered fit to raise the child, unless there is evidence that suggests otherwise. The burden of proving a parent unfit is a high one and generally isn't an issue in most divorces.

Get Advice on Child Custody from a Divorce Lawyer
Child custody depends on the circumstances of your divorce and living arrangements. Learn about state divorce laws regarding child custody may be affect your relationship with your child by speaking to a local divorce lawyer.

Best Interest of the Child
The best interest of the child is a key legal standard used to determine child custody. During divorce, courts may consider many factors to determine what child custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Typically, joint child custody and shared parenting is in the best interest of the child. If joint custody isn't possible, it's usually assumed reasonable visitation with the noncustodial parent is also in the best interest of the child.

Typical Factors to Determine the Best Interest of the Child
Child's age and health

  • Health of the parents
  • Stability and lifestyle of the parents
  • Child's adjustment to the community and school
  • Parents' ability to provide for the child's needs
  • Relationship the child has with each parent
  • Any disabilities of the child or parents
  • Child's preference, if he or she is an appropriate age to voice a preference

If the divorce court considers a child's preference, it must decide whether the child's preference is in his or her best interests.

Modify Child Custody
During divorce, child custody may be decided by an agreement between the parents or a divorce court order. When changes need to be made to a child custody parenting agreement or court order, one or both parents may seek an order to modify child custody.

If the parents can reach an agreement on modifying child custody, the agreement may be filed in court along with the petition to modify.  If the petition is granted and the agreement approved, it becomes a court order. If only one parent seeks to modify child custody, the parent must file a petition to modify with reasons why the modification is necessary.

A parent must usually file a separate motion to modify child support to make changes to support obligations.

Reasons to Modify Child Custody
Parents seeking to modify child custody generally must show the divorce court there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original custody order. The parent seeking custody must also demonstrate that he or she can provide an environment that better meets child's needs and interests.

A special standard may be applied for custody modifications sought within one to two years after the original order. The parent seeking to modify child custody has to show a substantial change in circumstances and the current custody arrangements endanger the child.

Examples of a Substantial Change in Circumstances

One parent moves farther away

Dangerous situation in the custodial parent's home

Custodial parent's lifestyle change threatens the child's well-being
Child's preference to live with the other parent, without coaching or bribing

Speak With a Divorce Lawyer about Child Custody Modification
With the help of a divorce lawyer, find out whether you may be able to modify your current child custody arrangement. A divorce attorney can further explain the modification process and help you work toward a child custody arrangement that protects the relationship between you and your child.

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