How is Child Custody Determined?

You and your spouse can decide which of you will have custody of your children. If you are unable to resolve this question, then a court will resolve the issue of custody for you.

Judges consider a variety of factors in determining which parent is entitled to custody including:

  • the age of the child
  • the time each parent has available to spend with the child
  • the stability of the parents
  • efforts by either parent to undermine the other parent
  • abductions
  • moves out of state
  • facilitation of visitation and involvement of the other parent
  • child abuse and neglect
  • drug and alcohol problems
  • religion
  • non-marital sexual relationships and
  • the preferences of the children.

In almost all cases, the parent not being awarded custody will be awarded a period of visitation with the child. Typically, the natural parents of the child are awarded custody; however, the law provides for custody by grandparents and other third parties when circumstances warrant such an arrangement.


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