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Custody of children is the legally recognized right and duty to control and supervise them. The person with custody can determine where they will live, their standard of living, and the nature of their training. He is responsible for seeing that their health, training, and care meet certain minimum standards; and to a degree he is responsible for their behavior. If these minimum standards are not met, he may be deprived of custody, and possibly even subjected to criminal penalties. But custody usually is something that is highly prized, and most judicial contests involving it are between competitors for child awards.

This article is concerned with some of the more important phases of custody law, with particular emphasis on the law of Kansas. A word of warning is needed as to the influence of this law. The courts have developed some practices in custody matters not consistent with abstract rules declared in the statutes and appellate opinions. For example, in contests between parents, children are awarded to the mothers as against the fathers in a far larger percentage of cases than can be justified under the formal law. Further, custody cases are so steeped in emotion that the results are often hard to predict because judges frequently give greater weight to human interest sidelights than is expected under abstract rules of custody law.

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