In some cases, two people who are getting divorced are able to come up with a child custody agreement on their own. They figure out a custody schedule and they set up a parenting plan. They can then take this to the court and, as long as everything looks legal, the court can agree to their plan.
But there are many couples who cannot find any way to agree on how to divide custody themselves. Perhaps they both want to have sole custody, which is impossible. Perhaps they just can’t agree on a schedule. Either way, they have to go to court and get a ruling from the judge to lay out their child custody rights and obligations.
While making this decision, the court has to consider a lot of different factors. The general focus is going to be on the best interests of the child. But it’s important to know what factors may be considered.
A list of potential factors
It’s very important to note that all divorce cases are unique, as are all living situations for children and their parents. The following are factors that may apply to your case or may not. But they are all examples of things that the court looks at, which helps you to generally understand what they’re looking for during this process. They may consider:
- The parents’ physical and mental health
- The child’s physical and mental health, along with any special needs
- The child’s wishes, if they are old enough to have a preference
- Any cultural considerations or religious considerations
- Who was the main caretaker and who was the main breadwinner
- What will make for a stable living situation for the children
- If there are any other children, such as siblings or step-siblings
- Any other extended family members who may live nearby and be involved, such as grandparents
- If there’s any evidence of drug or alcohol use by the parents
- If there is any evidence of physical or sexual abuse
- If the child has been exposed to domestic violence or excessive discipline
- The child’s age and gender
- Whether they would have to make any adjustments to a new community or a new school system
There’s a lot to think about when determining child custody, and you can see how important it is to understand exactly what legal steps to take.