The Basics of Child Custody and the Interests of the Child


One of the most common finality points of a child custody hearing is “what is in the best interest of the child?” While sometimes it’s as simple as delegating joint custody or full custody to the most capable parent, other times it’s not so cut and dry.

The court will consider several factors including the child’s pre-hearing health, emotional ties and who played the role of primary caregiver up to that point. If the child is 12 or older, he/she may give the court a preference for custody if both parents are deemed fit.

The Different Forms of Custody

A judge can award two different kinds of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody gives the parent the decision-making authority over the child’s overall well-being (this includes health, education and welfare). Physical custody is where the child will actually live. Keep in mind that these can be designated to one parent, split between both or even given to a third party if that’s in the best interest of the child.

If one parent receives both custodies, then the judge will often grant visitation rights if it makes sense in that particular case. Obviously, visitation rights can be a major sticking point as to when and how that occurs.

The Question of the Third Party

If a third party is given these custodies as deemed for the child’s best interest, that party is now the child’s primary guardian. Grandparents typically don’t receive any special consideration, but they can petition the court for visitation in certain situations such as divorce, termination of parental rights or death of one of the parents.

Above all, the court will always look at what is in the best interest of child in an effort for the proceeding and result to be as minimally disruptive on his/her life as possible. Especially in these current, uncertain times, providing a child going through this process with stability and proper care is vital.

Child Custody cases are often emotional and difficult battles and the Law Offices of Rusty Williard understands the delicate nature of these situations. Call us today at (601) 824-9797 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how our Jackson and Brandon, MS child custody team handles each case with compassion and care.