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What factors do courts consider when determining child custody?

As a parent, one of your main concerns during divorce may be over child custody. Which parent will your children live with? How often will you see your children? Will you still have a voice in child rearing decisions? The answers to all of these questions will depend on your child custody arrangement.

Parents often work together to create custody arrangement they can both agree on. However, there are times when parents simply cannot agree. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on custody matters, a court may need to decide for you.

Most considerations focus on your childs needs

When a court must choose a child custody arrangement, it will always put the best interests of the child first. When determining the best interests of a child, a court can consider any factor that may be relevant. However, there are also several standard factors a court will consider.

Some commonly considered factors include your child’s:

  • Age
  • Physical and mental condition
  • Changing developmental needs
  • Relationship with each parent
  • Emotional, intellectual and physical needs
  • Important relationships beyond his or her parents
  • Preference

Some considerations focus on your ability to meet your childs needs

Although most of the factors that courts consider focus on the child’s needs, some considerations involve each parent’s ability to meet those needs. These considerations include each parent’s:

  • Age
  • Physical and mental condition
  • Positive involvement in the child’s life
  • Likelihood of supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Ability to resolve disputes about matters affecting the child

For many kids, having an ongoing relationship with both parents is critical, so courts often award joint custody. However, a court can select another custody arrangement if that is more appropriate.

The custody of your children is, understandably, one of the most important decisions to be made before your divorce is finalized. Knowing how courts make custody decisions can help you better advocate for your child’s best interests throughout the process.

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