The Key Factors Affecting Child Custody Decisions

Child Custody in ProvoA divorce is almost invariably a stress-filled and painful ordeal. Even worse than the process itself, however, is what comes afterward. The possibility of losing the house and paying alimony is bad enough, but what really matters is that you might even lose custody of your children.  

This is one of a parent’s biggest fears, especially if they believe that their ex-spouse is unfit to raise the kids. Child custody is a complex part of family law in Orem. What factors will affect the court’s decision?

The general rule is that judge’s will always decide in the best interests of the child. As such, these are usually the most important factors.

1. Child’s age and condition – Although this is considered an outdated idea, some judges do believe that a child should spend their formative years with their mother. The female parent will often get primary custody of younger kids or those with weaker constitutions.

2. Parent’s lifestyle, income, and history – Does one parent have a history of drug abuse, or a criminal record? Have there been reports of domestic or child abuse in the past? How sound of mind and body are they? Do they have a stable job? These will make a huge difference.

3. Established living pattern – As much as possible, the court wants to minimize disruptions to the status quo. This means that they will usually grant primary custody to whichever parent gets the primary household, so the child will not have to move, change schools, and so on.

4. Quality of environment – If one parent lives in a much safer neighborhood with good schools, however, the court will usually prefer to grant primary custody to them –even if moving will be necessary. The long term benefits far outweigh the short term impact.

5. Child’s preference – A child’s preference is always a significant factor, especially if they are already in their teen years. Whichever parent they are more comfortable and affectionate with will have a strong advantage in custody arrangements.

Remember, though, that courts will usually prefer shared parenting arrangements. It is hard to get sole custody of a child, unless the other parent is judged to be a dangerous individual and harmful influence.