How Do Courts Decide Who Gets Custody?

child upset with parents

Child custody issues can be an extremely stressful time for parents. During this time, a family's entire life seems to change. What is perhaps most painful for parents is the uncertainty felt while awaiting a child custody determination.

A judge usually awards custody based on several commonly reviewed factors. Also, there are different types of custody for a judge to consider for each individual case. An experienced family law attorney or divorce attorney will be able to help successfully guide you through a child custody hearing, and best prepare your case. It is extremely unadvisable to go through a child custody hearing without a competent attorney by your side.

Types of Custody

There are two prevailing types of custody, legal and physical.

Physical custody determines where the child will physically reside. Legal custody, on the other hand, determines which parents will make major decisions on behalf of the child. Major decisions can include things such as non-emergent medical care or religious upbringing. Legal custody is typical, though not always, awarded jointly to both parents so that each parent may have a voice in these decisions.

Determining Custody

When determining custody, Judges are seeking to answer, "What is in the best interest of the child?" It is not the judge's responsibility to appease either parent. The court's main prerogative is the welfare of the child. To answer this question, a court will often consider the following factors:

  • The child or children's age and gender

  • Each parent's financial ability to meet the basic needs of the child (food, shelter, etc.)

  • The parent and child's relationship or bond

  • The child's wishes, typically when the child is a pre-teen or teenager

  • The lifestyle and stability of each parent

  • What kind of impact the custody decision would have on the child - Would it cause emotional distress for the child or uproot their routine?

It is important to note that this is not an all-encompassing list of factors to consider. Nor does anyone factor determine custody in and of itself. For example, just because the child has a close bond with one parent does not automatically mean custody will be awarded to that parent.

The Law Offices of Jonny Kousa Can Help

Your children are the most important people in your life. Their wellbeing and future are something that we do not take lightly at The Law Offices of Jonny Kousa. It is our passion to serve our clients aggressively and to be supportive every step of the way. Family law is our area of expertise; let us put our skills to work for you.

Contact us today at (954) 626-8071 to discuss your case.