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What the Courts Look for When Deciding Custody

In an ideal world, there would be a way for divorcing parents to divide up custody evenly, with time split between both homes. The kids would have stable relationships and wouldn’t have to move. At the same time, all important decisions would be worked out with the parents without old disagreements and emotional injuries getting involved, allowing both parents to be on the same page and the kid to always be put first.

That would be ideal, but we don’t live in that world. Divorces are messy, and a large part of why they’re messy is because of custody. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that both parents want primary custody of the kids, and only one of them can actually get it. Someone has to be disappointed and will have to work all that much harder to maintain their strong relationship with their kids.

It’s important to know upfront, as you go into a divorce, what the likelihood is that you will get primary custody. Knowing the difficulties you face to get primary or sole custody can allow you to either develop the best legal strategies to get that custody or else adjust your expectations and focus on how to get the most time with your kids.

So, what are the courts looking at when they determine custody? Alexander & Associates lay out a number of questions the judge will ask that will allow them to make their decision. Those questions include:

  • Which parent will provide the children with the best home life?
  • Which parent has a history of making the big decisions for the children, including health and schooling?
  • Which parent participates more in the children’s lives, including attending extracurricular activities and school events, and getting the kids ready for school?
  • Which parent do the children feel most comfortable living with, if they are old enough to express an opinion?
  • Which parent can keep the children in the same community, in the same school, and near the same friends and relatives?
  • Is one parent trying to make it harder for the other parent to maintain a good relationship with the children?
  • Is one parent unable to provide a safe, stable home for the children?
  • Which custody decision will be best for the children?
  • Which custody decision will be best for everyone, overall?

Look through those questions and consider the potential answers you would provide. If you want to be the primary parent, you’ll obviously need to be able to prove you have a safe and stable home in the same area the kids currently live. You’ll also be able to prove that you have been the primary parent for the children already. You may also want to show that you are willing to work with the other parent to make sure everyone is as happy as possible.

If you can’t provide these sorts of answers, it’s time to adjust to the possibility that you may not be the primary parent for your children after the divorce. That doesn’t mean you won’t get time with your kids. You’ll just need to work with your former spouse and the court to get the most time with them as possible.

The Basics of Child Custody and Child Support

A divorce is already a difficult situation. However, divorce proceedings can become even more challenging when there are children involved in the process. Divorcing parents will need to make several different decisions in regards to the well-being of their children. While some couples are able to come to an amicable agreement on their own, most will need the intervention of a mediator or a family court in order to come to a concession. Among the many decisions divorcing parents need to make is with regards to child custody and child support.

A child custody arrangement determines how each parent will be able to participate and figure in the life and caretaking of children after a marriage ends and a divorce is concluded. In most U.S. states, child custody arrangements can be classified into the following:

  • joint physical custody, where both parents are deemed custodial parents and are given equal amounts of time living with their children;
  • joint legal custody , where only one parent is granted physical custody but both are able to make parental decisions about their children’s education, health care, and other important needs;
  • and finally, sole custody, where only one of the parents is granted physical and legal custody of the children.

Determining a child support agreement is necessary for the last two scenarios where only one parent is considered the custodial parent. In these cases, the non-custodial parent is legally obligated to offer monthly financial assistance to the parent with physical custody of their children. The amount of the payment will depend on important factors that revolve around the best interest of the children involved. In particular, the court will look into the age and needs of the children involved in the custody battle, as well as the age, health, and income of each parent. A child support agreement settled by the court ensures that the custodial parent will not be able to deprive the non-custodial parent his or her right to visit and spend time with the children. On the other hand, the non-custodial parent will also be unable to escape or avoid his or her financial responsibility to their children. This is true even when the non-custodial parent is denied their rightful visitation time.

Considering this information, it’s easy to surmise that child support payments can quickly become a complicated issue. As such, it would be best to contact experienced family lawyers for more specific details that could help your own situation. As the Arenson Law Group, PC divorce lawyers put it on their website, having qualified legal counsel on your side can be a very valuable resource during a difficult child custody proceeding and it could make the difference on the outcome.