When two people get divorced, one of the most challenging and important decisions that must be made is who will have custody of the children. Judges must consider various factors in making this determination to ensure they are making a judgment that is in the child’s best interests.
Judges often evaluate factors including each parent’s home environment and work schedule and whether either parent has been abusive or neglectful. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the child has a stable and supportive home life.
What factors do judges evaluate when determining child custody after divorce?
When determining child custody, judges must take into account many factors, including the child’s age, best interests, and their relationship with each parent. They may also look at the parents’ ability to cooperate and the scenario that will provide the most stability and continuity.
Depending on the child’s age, a judge may ask for their input on the arrangement and what they feel most comfortable with. This can be done by speaking with the child directly if they are old enough or by utilizing a custody evaluator as a liaison.
In addition to the considerations above, a judge will also evaluate each parent’s mental and physical well-being and their capacity to care for the child. This could involve looking at work schedules, available family support, and financial situations to determine which parent can provide the most stable living situation.
If there is evidence of neglect or abuse from either parent, the judge will take steps to protect the child by limiting or preventing contact with that parent.
Primary vs. Shared Physical Custody
There are two common forms of child custody arrangements – primary or shared physical custody. A primary custody arrangement means one parent has sole supervision over the child, while the other might receive visitation rights. However, the child resides only with the parent with primary custody. Primary custody also grants the primary parent the ability to make decisions regarding health and education without the other parent.
Shared physical custody is also known as joint custody. In these arrangements, the child resides with both parents on a schedule. Typically, shared physical custody is measured by counting the amount of overnight time each parent has during a set period, though time may not always be divided equally. For example, a child may live with one parent during the week and the other parent on weekends or might alternate weeks and weekends with each parent. Joint custody also provides both parents with equal rights to make decisions regarding the child’s health or education.
In California, there is a presumption of shared physical custody, meaning that a shared arrangement is often recommended unless there are strong reasons for one parent to be awarded primary physical custody.
Assistance with a child custody case
Determining the custody of children in a divorce can be a daunting task. Still, with careful consideration, judges aim to make arrangements that are in the child’s best interest. If you need guidance in navigating a child custody situation, allow the experienced family lawyers at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri to assist.