How Is Child Custody Decided? What Divorcing Parents Should Know

Child custody is a hot topic for divorcing parents. Most parents want to do what is best for their children. Unless the parents can agree on child custody questions, the family court judge may make the decision on their behalf. The judge may take into consideration a number of factors when making the decision. To find out what goes into a child custody decision, read on. 

The Best Interest of the Child 

The best interest of the child is important to family court judges and others dealing with children and divorce. Many parents can name numerous reasons why the child should be in their custody. However, it's only the reasons that directly benefit the child that counts as far as the judge is concerned.

Age of the child

Young children don't always end up with their mothers. However, if the mother is nursing the child, the judge will take that into consideration.

Illness and special needs

In some cases, a child may be ill or have additional mental or physical needs. The parent who has already been taking care of the child may be a natural choice unless another problem prevents that. The child may be accustomed to being cared for by that parent and any disruption in the routine could cause the child to be negatively affected. 

Relationship status

While many children have good relationships with both parents, the child may have developed a close relationship with one parent over the other. 


In some cases, one parent is more able to provide a good environment for the child than the other. Children require numerous types of care, from the physical aspects of care to nurturing and emotional development. 

Child's choice

Young children should never be involved in making custody or visitation choices. However, some tweens and teenagers may be ready to have a say in child custody matters. 

Parental fitness

This issue refers not to the parent's ability to make good parenting decisions but also to their general parenting outlook. This issue encompasses disciplinary habits, attention to health issues, the parent's view on education, and more. 

Bad behavior

Parents with a history of neglect, abuse, substance abuse, abandonment, and more may not the best choice for holding child custody. However, the removal of all parental rights is rare. 

In some cases, the judge will order that a child study be performed. Speak to a child custody lawyer to find out more.