How child custody is determined is important for divorcing parents to understand. Knowing how child custody is determined can help parents anticipate the process so they can work to develop a child custody arrangement that is best for their child.

Child custody factors

Child custody is based on a determination of what is in the best interests of the child. What is in the best interests of the child is, in turn, based on an assessment of a variety of child custody factors including:

  • The love, affection and emotional ties between the parents and the child;
  • The capacity and inclination of the parents to provide love, affection and guidance to the child;
  • The capacity and inclination of the parents to continue the child’s education and religious training;
  • The capacity and inclination of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing and care;
  • The length of the time the child has spent in a stable and satisfactory environment that the desirability of maintaining continuity in the child’s environment;
  • The permanence of the proposed home for the child;
  • The moral fitness of the parents;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • The home, school and community record of the child;
  • The reasonable preference of the child based on the child’s age and if they are of sufficient age to express a preference;
  • The willingness of the parents to facilitate and encourage and close and continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent;
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse; and
  • Any other factor considered relevant to the family law court.

All of these factors are considered with the goal of ensuring the most stable and safe child custody arrangement for the child that will foster the child’s overall well-being. It is helpful for parents to focus on a child custody arrangement that is best for the child along with the family law court. Familiarity with the child custody process can help divorcing parents prepare as they negotiate the best child custody arrangement for their family.