Divorce & Child Custody: 3 Factors That Play The Largest Role In Custody Decision

If you're going through a divorce and gearing up for a custody battle, you may have a few questions surrounding the custody decision and how a judge comes to their decision. Below are three major factors that a judge will consider during the custody case and how a parent can make themself the more obvious option for primary custody.

1. Which Parent Cares for the Child the Majority of the Time?

It's important, especially during an upheavel such as divorce, that children are given a stable, consistent environment. This is why the judge will consider who took care of the child most and factor this into their final custody decision.

This factor may not play a large role if both parents spend equal time with their children, but if one parent did the majority of the care taking, it may be in the child's best interest for that parent to be awarded custody. For example, if the mother of the child was a stay-at-home mother and the father worked upwards of 80 hours per week, it may not seem fair, but the mother will likely be given more parenting time with the child simply because it would cause the least amount of disruption for the child. If you're a working parent and would like to show the judge that you're serious about your parenting time, be sure to never miss scheduled visits with your child and consider requesting more visits, if possible.

2. Which Parent is the Child More Bonded To?

It's likely that the child will be more bonded to the parent they spend the majority of their time with, but that won't always be the case, especially if that parent is abusive or the parent and child have personality clashes.

If you're worried that your ex will be given custody simply because they put in more parenting time, even if your child is more bonded with you, consider asking your lawyer about getting a bonding evaluation done. A bonding evaluation is done by a therapist and will determine who the child is more emotionally bonded with. Sometimes, the difference between the bond between the child and each of their parents is negligible, but sometimes, the difference is large enough that it can make an impact on the judge's custody decision.

3. Which Parent Offers a More Stable Home Environment?

If the above two factors are considered equal, then the stability of the home environment may be the largest deciding factor.

A stable home is a home that provides for the child emotionally and physically. The judge will have to consider which parent can support the child financially, as well as emotionally. The judge will also consider which parent will encourage a relationship between their child and their other parent, and which parent will go out of their way to keep their child's life as close as it was prior to the divorce. When going through the custody case, it's important that you're able to show that you have a stable living environment and can offer your child the level of care they'll require.

To learn more about the custody decision process and how you can increase your odds of getting primary custody, consult with your divorce attorney. 

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