What Are the Child Custody Rights in Divorce Cases?

The most important and complex issue in a divorce case is ‘Child Custody’. Both husband and wife, use child custody as a medium to establish the guilt and fault of the other party.

In India, Guardian and Wards Act, 1890 is empowered to determine the issue of child custody.

Generally, the court has the power to grant the following:

(a) Permanent Custody

(b) Interim Custody

(c) Visitation Rights

(a) Permanent Custody

The court awards permanent custody after determination of all aspects of the case. Usually, prime criteria is the “welfare of the child.”

While deciding the ‘welfare of the child’, the court mainly considers following factors:

i. The qualification of both father and mother.

ii. Family background of the both father and mother, which includes their financial and academic qualifications

iii. Child’s wishes

iv. Conduct of the parties

v. Overall development of the child.

(b) Interim Custody

The court awards interim custody during the pendency of the case keeping in mind the overall development of the child. While granting interim custody, the court tries to maintain balance between the husband and the wife and also remains cautious that the child is not treated as a shuttlecock between the estranged spouses.

The court also imposes certain conditions for the welfare of the child like not leaving the country without informing the court, to protect the interest of another party.

(c) Visitation Rights

The Court grants visitation rights at two stages, at the stage of the trial, and after the determination of the dispute (divorce in most of the cases). Once one of the spouses gets the permanent custody, other spouse has a right to meet the child once a week or as directed by the Court. The object of the court is to maintain the emotional bond between the child and parents.

Conclusion

In matrimonial proceedings, the court has to decide the question of custody of children during the pendency of the proceedings and after the passing of a decree. The court can revoke, suspend or vary, any such order made earlier on the change of circumstances. While adjudicating upon the custody of a child, the court has to keep in mind the welfare of a child. Though court considers other factors as well, however, welfare of the child is of utmost consideration. Usually, in female child custody cases, the courts give custody to the mother as at the age of puberty, girl child needs the mother’s care. Thus, over and above, welfare of the child is the influential factor while deciding the custodial rights.

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