Child Custody Laws differ from state to state. You need to check with your state's laws to get the most current information. When it comes to child custody Laws, there are a few states that have all the procedures laid out for the separating parents and there children. The judges must follow these guidelines to assist in determining the custody of the children during and after a divorce.
There aren't many federal laws that apply to children's custody, with the exception of transporting across different state lines. States do have differing laws that deal with jurisdiction between other states, but not all states have this understanding however. So if one parent lives in one state and the parent and children in another, the state where the children reside will have more influence. Of course you must take into consideration which state the separation and custody papers where filed.
Child custody Laws are designed with interest of the children as the first priority. Child custody laws are designed to prevent custody going to abusers of drugs or alcohol. Laws are also in place that prevents the children from going to an environment where there is clear mental or physical abuse. Most states prefer joint custody between the parents, where both parents can be a functional part of raising the children. The parents would share both physical and legal custody of the children.
It's really important to understand these two distinctions in the Child custody laws. Physical custody is where the children are residing. When a child lives a large portion of time with one parent, that parent has what is known as physical custody. Often times during the summer months children leave one parent to live in the house of the other. During those situations physical custody moves from one parent to the other.
Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make important decisions regarding health, education, and well being issues. Often both physical custody and legal custody are with the same parent, unless the parents have joint custody. During those situations the court may decided that where the children reside at the time that that parent can determine what is best for the children at the time. However is would be wise to have a consensus between the parents.
Again, research the child custody laws of your state or province to determine what the best solution is for you during these trying times. Always have the children's best interest when making these decisions.