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The Determining Factors for Which Parent Gets Custody

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If you aren’t aware of the determining factors for which parent gets custody after a divorce, check out this blog for the nuances the judge will consider when making their decision.

Child’s Age

A child’s age can have a big effect on a judge’s approach. For very young children, especially those who are still breastfeeding, the mother is commonly awarded primary custody. This is even more likely if the mother was already the primary caregiver.

For older teenagers, some judges will choose to listen to the child’s preference. It will never be the sole deciding factor, but if the child is already 16 or 17, the judge might believe they’re capable of picking their own living situation. This is assuming, though, that both parents’ living situations are suitable options.

Parents’ Living Situations

The judge will also consider the parents’ living situations. The judge will want to set up the child with the best possible environment to help them through this challenging transition. Often, the parent who keeps the home will be awarded custody because it allows the child to maintain some continuity. You’ll need to prove you can provide a proper living situation with enough space for you and your child. If you’re crashing on a friend’s couch or staying in a hotel, that will significantly hurt your chances of getting primary custody.

Level of Cooperation

Having the ability to maintain healthy relationships with both parents is in a child’s best interest, so judges will also take notice of your willingness to coparent. The court will want both parents to stay in the child’s life when possible, and they’ll reward couples open to building parenting schedules.

Parents’ Criminal History

A criminal record can affect your divorce case in various ways, one of them being custody. If you do have a criminal history, you’ll need to be prepared to show that you’ve rehabilitated your criminal past and that there isn’t a chance of repeat offenses. Also, obtaining a character statement from past parole officers or other officials who can attest to your reformation could help you.

History of Abuse or Neglect

Having a history of abuse or neglect is arguably the most critical factor in deciding custody. A judge will not send a child into an environment that puts them at risk. So if you have evidence of neglect or abuse against your former spouse, make sure your lawyer presents it to the court.

Now that you understand the determining factors for which parent gets custody, you’re hopefully better prepared for your court or arbitration dates.

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