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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *