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Understanding the factors considered in child custody disputes

Divorce can play out many different ways, depending on the couple, the things at stake in the divorce, and the season of life when it occurs. For a younger couple who only stays married for a short time and has very few assets or liabilities to divide, a divorce may feel emotionally devastating, but it will probably become more of a personal footnote at some point than a major life change.

In contrast, divorces that arrive when a couple is established, possibly owning a home, and raising children is another thing entirely. In these cases, determining which parent will receive primary or sole custody of the children often takes center stage in the process, with each parent doing everything one can to retain parental rights and privileges.

If you find yourself facing a similar divorce scenario, you're not alone, but you do need help. Depending on how your divorce plays out, you may find yourself missing out on important milestones in your children's lives, which no parent wants to do.

Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who understands the inner workings of custody conflicts. Professional legal guidance ensures that you have all the tools you need to protect your rights and privileges as a parent.

What does a court consider when determining custody?

Different courts and judges approach custody issues from differing perspectives, but all courts generally lean on the principle of what is in the best interests of the child. While this may seem very broad (and it is), it is always wise to remember that a court is probably more concerned with what it feels is best for a child rather than honoring one parent or another's perceived parental rights.

To this end, if you want to increase your chances of winning the custody you want over a child's other parent, you must keep in mind that all of your actions, even those that do not seem related to parenting directly, may count for or against you.

Questionable behavior, such as drinking to excess or using drugs will not cast you in a favorable light to the court, especially if this behavior occurs when a child is present or close by. Contrastingly, if your spouse acts in dangerous or irresponsible ways, you probably want to document this behavior to present to the court.

Other, more concrete, factors also play a part in the decision. Which parent can provide the best overall home for the child? Which parent can provide the best access to education and community? If a child stays with one parent over the other, will he or she have a more stable transition and be able to stay around friends?

If the child is older than 12 (in many cases), what does the child want? Does the child have a demonstrably closer relationship with one parent over the other?

These are general examples of how your circumstances and behavior may affect your chances of reaching a fair custody agreement.

Don't wait to get the help you need

If you face divorce and custody conflicts, don't leave custody of your child up to chance. You can consult with an experienced divorce attorney to examine the details of your circumstances and craft a personalized strategy to pursue the custody of your child that you deserve.

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