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How is Child Custody Determined?

Child custody, at its most basic, is having the responsibility to care for, and the legal control of, underage children who cannot make decisions for themselves. When a couple with children is separating, child custody is one of the most important issues that needs to be decided as part of that separation. And while it might seem like a fairly cut-and-dry issue, there are actually a wide variety of factors that go into figuring out custody.

What Figures Into The Decision?

When a couple with children separates, the court looks at several aspects of the case before making a ruling. Some things that play into a custody decision include:

– Desires of The Parents: Courts are unlikely to award custody to a parent that doesn’t want it, as that is not in the child’s best interests.

– Relationship With The Children: A parent that is on good terms with their children is more likely to receive custody.

– Experience: If one parent or the other has been providing a majority of childcare, that will also figure into the custody decision.

– Ability to Provide: If a parent lacks the skills, finances, experience, or ability to provide for a child, they aren’t likely to receive custody.

– Children’s Wishes: If a child is old enough to have their opinion considered by the court, then it will weigh into the overall decision.

All of these factors, and several others as Very Well Family points out, are facets of a child’s best interests. Because while every parent wants what is best for their child, it is up to the courts to weigh all the different possible factors, and to decide what is actually best for the children of a split from a position of impartiality.

This process is complicated in some respects, and simplified in others, if the couple in question isn’t married. Because while the split won’t involve the rest of a divorce proceeding, it will still be necessary to determine what is best for any children involved.

There Are Different Types of Custody to Consider, As Well

Another important thing to consider when it comes to custody is what type of custody a parent is trying to get. The most common types of child custody include:

– Sole Custody: When a child lives with one parent, and has the legal right to make important decisions for that child.

– Joint Custody: When both parents still make cooperative decisions for their children, sharing responsibilities and co-raising them, that is a joint custody agreement. While children may live primarily with one parent in these situations, but both parents still have a say in important matters regarding their well-being.

– Shared Custody: Shared custody is similar to joint custody, except in this circumstance the children live with each parent at least 40 percent of the time, ensuring they still grow up as part of two households, and with plenty of time around each parent.

– Split Custody: If a couple has multiple children, then it may be possible to be awarded split custody, which is like joint custody where each child primarily lives with one parent. This is not common, and is typically done with older children, as it’s usually in the best interests of younger children to be kept together with a single parent.

Which variety of custody you are seeking, in addition to all the factors listed above, will play into the complicated balancing act the court has to go through. If you find yourself in a custody case, or you’re considering divorce and you want to know what your options are going to be, all you have to do is contact us today!