Every child custody decision should be made with your child’s best interests in mind. However, parents often disagree on what a child’s best interests are.
If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement regarding child custody, then a judge must set the custody arrangement for you. A judge will make a decision based on what he or she thinks the best interests of your child are.
How does a judge determine best interests if parents cannot even agree?
Determining what a child’s best interests are may seem subjective. However, there are several factors a judge will typically consider when making that determination. For example a judge may consider:
- Your child’s well-being
- The relationship between you and your child
- The relationship between your spouse and your child
- Either parent’s history of abuse or drug use
- If one parent was previously the primary caregiver
- The child’s interactions with school and the community
In some instances, a judge may consider a child’s preference. However, this will only occur when the child is mature enough to make such a decision. Even then, the child’s preference will not be the deciding factor.
A judge can award custody to one or both parents. However, judges typically award joint custody because it is often in a child’s best interest to have an ongoing relationship with both parents after the divorce.
A child custody decision impacts your child’s life, your life and your spouse’s life. It can also impact other aspects of your divorce. Understanding how a judge makes custody decisions can help you advocate for the best possible outcome.