Child custody is one of the most important concerns that divorcing parents often have. When you found out that you and your spouse are going to be divorced, your mind may have jumped to your children. You may worry that you may not get custody of your children, and you may wonder how decisions about child custody are even made.
Fortunately, as a parent, you will be able to influence the custody arrangement that is selected. If you and your spouse can work together, you two can create the arrangement that works best for your situation. However, even when it is not possible to work together with your spouse, the court will consider your proposed plan before determining custody.
You and your spouse can decide on a custody arrangement
Courts prefer parents to work together to create a mutually agreeable parenting plan. This means that you and your spouse can decide what custody arrangement makes the most sense for your children and your family situation.
In general, parents have the most control over the custody arrangement when they work together to form a parenting plan. However, if you and your spouse cannot agree by the time there are 45 days left before the trial, you may each file your own proposed parenting plan, and the court will decide on a custody arrangement.
Courts look for your child’s best interests
If a court must decide a custody arrangement for your children, it will look for the option that serves the best interests of your children. The court can consider any relevant factor to determine the best interests of a child.
Some examples of factors a court may consider, include:
- The child’s relationship with both parents and other close family members
- Each parent’s past and potential for future performance of parenting responsibilities
- The child’s emotional needs
- Each parent’s moral, physical, mental and emotional ability to parent
- The character of others who frequent each parent’s home
Courts generally prioritize stability and consistency in your children’s lives, and often prefer custody plans that allow children to maintain healthy relationships with both parents, unless there is a good reason why this would not benefit the children. It also looks for an arrangement that will maintain your children’s emotional growth, health and stability, and physical care.
Working with your spouse may allow you the most control over your custody options, but the court is there if negotiation or mediation falls through. However, the best interests of your children should be at the heart of any custody decision.