How Does The Court Decide Who Gets Child Custody?
How exactly the court will decide who gets custody of the child or the children in a divorce will depend on a great many factors. While these factors may vary from state to state, at least in terms of their specific definitions, for the most part it is the job of the court to insure that the best interests of the child are being looked after. It is on the basis of these best interests that the court will decide who it is that is going to get child custody.
To be sure, parents do have the option themselves to make a custody arrangement. If the parents are able to do this, they can often avoid an expensive and lengthy court process, sparing them and their child a lot of frustration. If, however, they cannot agree on custody between themselves, then the court will have to decide who gets child custody.
The judge in a court will decide who gets child custody, as noted above, on the basis of the “best interests” of the child. There are many factors that can go into the child’s best interests. The judge will look at things like the criminal record of the parents, how emotionally stable the parents are, the particular home environment with each of the parents, whether a parent has been abusive or presents a danger to the child, the emotional bonds of the child or the children with parents or other family members, and the attitudes that the parents have toward the child. In addition, the court may consider the child’s gender, age, and health. If the child is old enough to decide, the judge may consider the child’s opinion on who they wish to live with.
In many cases, a judge will give permanent legal custody to the parent that has been having physical custody of the child up to that point. This is especially true if the child seems to be doing well, as the court doesn’t want to disrupt the child’s life any more than is necessary.