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Custody Considerations: Step-By-Step

Divorces or legal separations can be an incredibly challenging process for parents but adding custody determinations to the process can make it even more catastrophic. Courts generally consider the best interests of the child above all else when coming to decisions, but that does not mean those decisions are easily made. The following are a couple of important factors courts consider when establishing who gets custody of a child.

Custody Consideration Number One: Kinds of Arrangement

One of the first steps in establishing who is going to get custody of a child is understanding your options concerning different kinds of potential custody arrangements. For instance, you and the child’s other parent might want to work out an arrangement in which you both make decisions concerning the child’s raising and well-being. This is referred to as “joint legal custody” in the majority of states. Or you may believe that the child’s other parent is presently unfit or incompetent of taking on any parental responsibility, in which case you might want to seek “sole custody” of your child.

Custody Consideration Number Two: The Decision-Maker (The Child’s Parents or the Court)

Frequently the answer to the question “who is going to get custody?” is going to be established through a process that is initiated by the parties involved in the child custody case. Final decisions are typically made by the child’s parents, the court, or a combining of both.

The Parents as Decision-Makers

Parents deciding child custody out of court, often with input from attorneys or mediators, may use alternative dispute resolution methods. Some states mandate mediation for divorcing parents. With an out-of-court agreement, there’s no set answer; parents can choose joint custody or a primary residence with ample visitation.

The Court as a Decision-Maker

When parents in child custody disputes don’t negotiate some sort of agreement prior to going to court, then the custody decision is going to be made in court, typically by a family court judge. The answer to the question of “which parent is going to get custody” is not easy to anticipate, but many courts follow a specific procedure, follow a number of general principles, and look to a conventional set of deliberations when making child custody determinations.

Custody Consideration Number Three: Elements and Preferences Impacting the Decision

Whether a custody decision stems from parental agreement or a court ruling, several factors typically influence the decision-making process.

Family court cases on child custody typically prioritize factors such as the child’s primary caregiver and their best interests, including their preferences in some cases.

Even during out-of-court negotiations, parents attempting to resolve custody disputes benefit from keeping these considerations in mind. This ensures that the discussions focus on reaching conclusions that are in the best interest of the child.

Custody Considerations in Non-Divorce Cases

Child custody and visitation matters commonly arise in divorces, but unmarried parents, grandparents seeking visitation rights, and individuals with a close relationship to a child may also become involved in custody disputes.

Child Custody Can Be a Challenging Process When You Go It Alone: Find Local Legal Help Today

In divorce or cases where marriage never occurred, disagreements on child custody can arise. Key considerations involve the child’s best interests, a crucial factor for the court. Seeking guidance from an experienced family law attorney is a valuable approach in navigating this process.

Source:

  1. Staff, F. L. (2021, December 30). Custody considerations: Step-by-step. Findlaw. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from https://www.findlaw.com/family/child-custody/custody-considerations-step-by-step.html

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