In some cases, parents who are getting divorced can agree on child custody arrangements without judicial intervention. They may work together to set up a schedule to share time with their kids. The court has to approve the schedule, but the parents are largely in control of crafting it, as long as they are both on the same page.
However, there are many cases in which parents are at odds, such as when they both want sole custody. The court will then make the decision, and it will look at the child’s best interests when doing so.
Different factors that it will consider
Deciding what is in a child’s best interest simply means looking at all of the relevant factors of the case and trying to figure out what custody solution would be best for them. For instance, courts often assume that it is best for a child’s development if they’re involved with both parents, which is why shared custody is now the norm. Here are some other factors that the court may consider when contemplating its decision:
- The child’s age
- The parents’ age and health
- Any special needs that the child has
- The child’s gender
- What the child’s preference would be if asked
- Where the child goes to school
- What the living situations are like with both of the parents
- If there is evidence of criminal activity or abuse
- The child’s relationship with extended family members
- The parents’ roles in the family before their divorce
What this means is that the decision that the court will make may not necessarily be in line with what either of the parents want. In the example above, if they both wanted sole custody, but they are likely both going to be disappointed when they’re ordered to share custody. This is because the court is focused on the child and not the parents.
Exploring your options
Going through a divorce can be complicated, especially if you’ve never done it before. Make sure that you know exactly what legal steps to take when determining custody. Seeking legal guidance as proactively as possible is important, regardless of whether you plan to negotiate or litigate your situation.