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Child Custody laws - Information on the law about Child Custody

seq tit children fam

Because of the importance of the laws regarding child custody, all fifty states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act.

Prior to the twentieth century, it was standard that the father would take sole custody of the children upon divorce. In the twentieth century, however, it became common practice to award custody of children "of tender years" to the mother. It is now most common to award custody to both parents at the same time, in an arrangement known as "joint custody," under which custody of the children is divided into legal and physical custody, with both parents sharing responsibility for the children simultaneously. However, joint custody does not necessarily mean equal custody. Rather, it merely means custody co-exists between parents with the physical arrangements coordinated in the best interests of the children. All but six states recognize the joint custody arrangement in child custody matters. Eight states, apparently feeling the need to remove the children from the pressures of having to make difficult and emotional decisions, do not consider the wishes of the children when awarding custody. However, it is safe to say that judges will never completely ignore children's wishes in considering custody matters, just as they will not make them bear the brunt of the responsibility for a decision when answering the objections of a parent. In the majority of states listed as not taking into account the child's wishes, the statute also reads that the decision regarding placement of the child must be based on what is in the "best interests" of the child.

Until ten years ago, only a few states recognized a grandparent's desire to visit his or her grandchildren as a right. Now, all except the District of Columbia recognize visitation rights of grandparents.

Table 26: Child Custody

State Code Section Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted Joint Custody Grandparent Visitation Child's Wishes Considered
ALABAMA 30-3-1 to 200 1980 Yes, §30-3-150 Yes, §30-3-4 Yes
ALASKA 25.24.150 1977 Yes, §25-20-060 "shared" Yes, §25.24.150 Yes
ARIZONA 25-401, et seq. 1996 Yes, §25-403 Yes, §25-409 Yes
ARKANSAS 9-13-101, et seq. 1979 No Yes, §9-13-103 No
CALIFORNIA Fam. 3400, 3000, et seq. 1973 Yes, Fam. 3080 presumption Yes, Fam. 3100(a), 3102, 3103, 3104 Yes
COLORADO 14-10-123 1973 No, repealed §14.10.123.5 Yes, §19-1-117 Yes
CONNECTICUT 46b-56 et seq. 1978 Yes §46b-56a Yes, 46b-59 Yes
DELAWARE Tit. 13 §§721, et seq. 1976 Yes, Tit. 13 §§727, 728 Yes, Tit. 13 §728 Yes
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 16-911(a)(5); 16-914 1983 Yes, 16-911 (a)(5) No Yes
FLORIDA 61.13 1977 Yes, §61.13(2)(b)2 "shared" Yes, §61.13(2)(c),(6),(7) Yes
GEORGIA 19-9-1, et seq. 1978 Yes, §19-9-3(a)(5) Yes, §19-9-3(d) Yes
HAWAII 571-46 1973 Yes, §571-46.1 Yes, §571-46.3 Yes
IDAHO 32-717 1977 Yes, §32-717B Yes, §32-719 Yes
ILLINOIS 750 ILCS 5/601, 602, 607 1979 Yes, 750 ILCS 5/602.1 Yes, 750 ILCS 5/607(b)-(e) Yes
INDIANA 31-17-1-1 et seq. 1977 Yes, §31-17-2-13 Yes, §31-17-5-1, et seq. Yes
IOWA 598.41 1977 Yes, §598.41(2) Yes, §598.35 Yes
KANSAS 60.1610 1978 Yes, §60.1610(a)(4)(A) Yes, §§38-129; 60.1616(b) Yes
KENTUCKY 403.270, 405.021 1980 Yes, § 403.270(5) Yes, §405.021 Yes
LOUISIANA Civ. Art. 131; Rev. Stat. §9:331, et seq., §9:355.12 1978 Yes, Civ. Art. 131. 9:335 Yes, limited, Rev. Stat. 9:344 Yes
MAINE Tit. 19A-1651-1654 1979 Yes, Tit. 19A 1651 Yes, Tit. 19A-§1801 et seq. Yes
MARYLAND Fam. §5-203, 9-102 1957 Yes, §5-203(d)(2) Yes, §9-102 No; 9-103 Child 16 yrs. old may petition for change of custody
MASSACHUSETTS 208§28, 209C §10 1983 Yes, 208§31; 209C§10 Yes, Ch. 119 §39D No
MICHIGAN 722.21 et seq. 1976 Yes, §722.26(a) Yes, §722.27(b) Yes
MINNESOTA 518.155 et seq. 1977 Yes, §518.17 subd. 2 Yes, 518.175, §257.022, subd. 7 Yes
MISSISSIPPI 93-5-23, et seq. 1982 Yes, §93-5-24 Yes, §93-16-1, et seq. No
MISSOURI 452.375 1978 Yes, §452.375 Yes, §452.402 Yes

Table 26: Child Custody—Continued

State Code Section Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted Joint Custody Grandparent Visitation Child's Wishes Considered
MONTANA 40-4-211 et seq. 1977 Yes, §40-4-212 "parenting plan" Yes, §40-9-102 Yes
NEBRASKA 42-364 1979 Yes, §42-364(5) Yes, §43-1802 Yes
NEVADA 125.480 1979 Yes, §125.465, 480.490 Yes, §125C.050 Yes
NEW HAMPSHIRE 458: 17 1979 Yes, §458: 17(II-IV) Yes, §458.17-d Yes
NEW JERSEY §9:2-1 et seq. 1979 Yes, §9: 2-4(a) Yes, §9-2-7.1 Yes
NEW MEXICO 40-4-9 1981 Yes, §40-4-9.1 Yes, §40-9-2 to 4 Yes
NEW YORK Dom. Rel. §240 1977 Yes, Dom. Rel. §240 Yes, Dom. Rel. §240(1) Yes
NORTH CAROLINA 50-11.2 et seq. 1979 Yes, §50-13.2 Yes, §50-13.2(b1) Yes
NORTH DAKOTA 14-09-06 et seq. 1969 No Yes, §14-09-05.1 Yes
OHIO 3109.04, 3105.21 1977 Yes, §3109.04(A) Yes, §3109.051 Yes
OKLAHOMA Tit. 43 §112 1980 Yes, 43§112 Yes, 10§5 Yes
OREGON 107.105 1973 Yes, §§107.105(a), 169 Yes, §109.119 No
PENNSYLVANIA Tit. 23 §5301 1980 Yes, Tit. 23 §5304 "Shared" Yes, Tit. 23 §§5311, 5303, 5312, 5313 Yes
RHODE ISLAND 15-5-16 1978 No Yes, §§15-5-24.1 to 24.3 No
SOUTH CAROLINA 20-3-160 1981 No Yes, § 20-7-420(33) No
SOUTH DAKOTA 25-4-45 1978 Yes, §25-5-7.1 Yes, §§25-4-52 Yes
TENNESSEE 36-6-101, 102 1979 Yes, §36-6-101(a) Yes, §36-6-306 Yes
TEXAS Fam. 153. 005 et seq. 1983 Yes, Fam. §153.003 Joint Managing Conservator Yes, Fam. 153.433 Yes
UTAH 30-3-10, 30-3-5 1980 Yes, §§30-3-10.1, et seq. Yes, §30-5-2 Yes
VERMONT Tit. 15 §665 1979 Yes, Tit. 15 §665(a) Yes, 15§1011 No
VIRGINIA 20-107.2, 20-124.1 et seq. 1979 Yes, §§20-124.2(B) Yes, §20-124.1 & §16.1-241 Yes
WASHINGTON 26.09.050; 26.10.100 et seq. 1979 No Yes, §26.09.240 Yes
WEST VIRGINIA 48-9-101 et seq. 1981 Yes, 48-9-207 Yes, §48-10-101, et seq. Yes
WISCONSIN 767.24 1975 Yes, §767.24(2) Yes, §767.245 Yes
WYOMING 20-2-201 1973 Yes, 20-2-201(d) Yes, 20-7-101 Yes
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