How the Court Determines Who Will Receive Child Custody

When custody disputes are a matter of concern, the court will always consider “the best interest of the child” to make their determinations. You have probably heard this many times before when considering child custody matters.

Considerations by the Judge 

The first thing that a judge will consider, of course, are factors that show that the child’s best interest is being with either parent. Some of those factors include the following:

Age: The courts no longer refer to the “tender years” doctrine and will not choose mother over father for no reason at all. Some judges, however, still believe that children should reside with their mothers if the mother was the primary caregiver or the child is breastfeeding. 

Living Situations: After a divorce, some parents think that they should have full custody of the children because they have remained in the family home. If you are without a stable home after a divorce, the judge may not grant you primary custody based on your living situation. The judge will also consider the proximity of your home to the other parent’s home.

Willingness to Support Relationships: Do you have a good record of communicating with your spouse about your parenting schedule? Have you ever bad-mouthed your spouse in front of your kids? If you are cooperative with the other parent, there is a good chance that you will be able to gain custody. 

Stability: Divorce can sometimes be traumatic for a child. Because of this, the court will give more time in many cases to the parent who does not want to uproot the child’s life, as children need stability. 

Children’s Preferences: If a child is over 12 in many cases, the judge may want to ask them what their preferences are regarding custody and visitation. Some states want to hear these views, and others tend to keep the children out of it. 

Neglect: If there is evidence that the child was abused or neglected by either parent, they will limit the contact the parent has with the child.

The Primary Caretaker 

If you can show the courts that you were the primary caretaker during the marriage, or the person who gave emotional support to the child at all times, the courts may take this into consideration. Psychologists over the years have stressed a major importance in a parent having a bond with their child on this level. The courts will consider the care-taking responsibilities of each parents, like grooming, meal planning, purchasing clothing, health care arrangements, and so much more. In many cases, it depends on your circumstances and the judge’s views. Each case is different, which is why you need to speak to an experienced attorney about where to turn in your case.