Factors the Court considers when determining who receives custody of a child.
Going through a divorce is an emotional and difficult time, especially when children are involved. Child custody is often one of the most heated issues debated between couples and can often lead to drawn-out courtroom custody battles. Being familiar with the factors that a court considers when determining custody can help couples prepare for the process as well as understand the basis for the final decision. The following are just some of the many factors that will likely be discussed:
1. The willingness or unwillingness that the parent displays when it comes to receiving custody of their child or children.
2. The physical safety of the child and/or parent from physical abuse from the other.
3. Any domestic abuse on the part of either parent.
4. The stability of the home environment that the parent can provide and sustain.
5. The age of the child.
6. The number of children.
7. The personal desires of the child, assuming the child is old enough to make a reasonable choice.
8. The continuance of the child’s quality education.
9. The parent’s employment history, current job, and prospects in the future.
10. The health of the relationship between the child and each parent and/or his or her siblings.
11. The parent’s willingness to allow the other parent visitation and a continuing relationship with the child unless, of course, physical abuse has been perpetrated in the past.
12. The proximity of the parents’ places of residence.
13. The physical and mental condition of both the child and the parents.
14. The extent to which each parent has taken an active role in the child’s life in the past.
15. The needs of the individual child, including continuing other healthy relationships, such as with siblings, other family members, and friends.
16. The ability of each of the parents to work together to settle disputes regarding how to properly care for the child in the future.
While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it does contain many of the factors that a court will consider. Depending upon the information acquired and the resolution reached, the court will determine in favor of sole custody or joint custody. Sole custody refers to the primary authority of one parent in both decision making as well as care. Joint custody can be further subdivided into two types, namely joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody means that both parents have the authority to make decisions regarding their child, while shared parenting refers to the sharing of custodial rights. In the end, the court will make a decision that they deem best for the welfare of the child or children involved.
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