Factors Determining who gets Custody

A large number of factors may influence the outcome of any given child custody dispute. For child custody arrangements that cannot be worked out satisfactorily outside of family courts, the judge or jury will be left to decide the custody arrangements for a child or children. In these family court hearings, both parties can produce virtually any piece of information, both positive and negative, that may sway the judge or jury in issuing a favorable outcome. Each child custody case presents differing and inherently unique circumstances surrounding it, and with this being so, the factors influencing the decision of the courts regarding child custody may vary greatly from case to case. An experienced child custody lawyer can assist clients in presenting their case, and in turn, their abilities to care for dependents, to the family courts within the confines of a child custody case. Likewise, a child custody lawyer can also assist clients in alerting the courts of potential drawbacks, shortcomings, or outright dangers in granting custody of a child or children to another parent.

The Types of Child Custody Sought

Largely affecting the outcome of an attempt to retain child custody is the type of custody that a parent, grandparent, or other party attempts to obtain with a child. In the case of a parent seeking custody of their child, a series of custody levels is provided by the family courts system, which allows both parents access to their children, even if this access is contested by either or both parents. Some of the following types of child custody arrangements may be sought by parents:

  • Visitation rights, which allow a parent visiting access to children on a set schedule in instances set forth by a family court judge.
  • Other non-custodial parent rights, including the ability to make major life decisions for a child or children.
  • Joint custody arrangements, which allow shared responsibilities between both parents in raising a child or children in all facets of life.
  • Sole custody arrangements, which allows one parent to retain complete and exclusive physical custody regarding a child or children. In these instances, the other parent may be afforded visitation rights; however, this is not mandatory in cases presenting clear and present danger to the best interests of the child or children.

The level of custody a parent wishes to obtain with their child or children may heavily influence a favorable outcome in family courts. In all instances, the courts will consider what is in the best interests of the child, and most normal circumstances, access and time with both mother and father is in held as in the best interest of a child. Therefore, attempting to restrict custody access from one parent may not be a feasible option if the reasoning is purely vindictive or unsupported in the eyes of the family court judge.

Factors Influencing Child Custody

When considering the custody arrangements for a child or children, the family court judge will note all the arguments presented by both parties involved in the dispute. The rule of thumb regarding child custody cases is making decisions in the best interests of the child or children. For this reason, virtually every aspect of an individual's life, both past and present, may undergo scrutiny in a child custody case. Some of the more common, but not altogether comprehensive, factors influencing child custody include:

  • Employment status and earning capacity of both parents
  • Custody of other children of parents involved in dispute
  • The wishes of the child or children
  • Criminal history of both parents
  • Medical needs of children, as well as health of parents
  • Impact of changing current status quo of child or children living arrangements
  • Quality of life, including education while living with one or other parent
  • Emotional bond between given child and respective parent
  • Ability of parent to provide safe home and social setting for child or children
  • History of mental illness, substance abuse, or child abuse and neglect in either or both parents

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