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How does the court determine child custody cases?

When a divorcing couple cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court will have to step in and determine how custody of the children will be shared. Usually, the interests of the children take center stage, and custody can go either way. It all depends on the circumstances of the divorce.

When deciding on custody, the judge will aim to achieve the following:

  • Ensure physical and emotional care of the child
  • Decide each parent’s responsibility
  • Protect the child from conflict involving the parents
  • Provide for the child’s needs as they grow

Custody can be legal or physical, shared or awarded to only one parent.

Who gets primary custody?

Even when parents share physical custody of the child, the court will name one parent as the primary custodian. This is the parent who lives with the child most of the time. If physical custody is shared, the non-custodial parent may be granted visitation rights or periodic stays with the children.

While many think the mother automatically becomes the primary custodian, the court considers the previous role each parent played in the child’s life. Certain factors will also weigh in on the court’s decision. They include each parent’s work schedule, their lifestyle, the child’s age and their emotional needs, among others.

Legal custody is equally important

Legal custody involves making important decisions about the child’s life, such as their education, religion or healthcare. When legal custody is shared, which is usually the case in most instances, both parents must be involved in making these decisions.

Ultimately, the court’s decision depends on the particulars of your divorce. If you are in the middle of or expecting a custody battle with your ex, it is necessary to know the aspects of family law that will come into play based and affect the outcome.