How Does the Court Determine Custody?

One of the most difficult issues addressed by the family courts is that of child custody When deciding which parent will be awarded custody of the child, the court considers a number of factors, but their top priority is the best interests of the child. The family judge will assess all areas of the parents' and child's lives before making their ruling, evaluating such factors as:

  • The age and health of the child
  • The gender of the child
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The child's every day schedule
  • The child's current education
  • Each parent's bond with the child
  • Each parent's lifestyle and daily schedule
  • The potential impact either situation could have upon the child's life
  • The child's preference if they are above a certain age
  • Each parent's ability to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage and allow the child's relationship with their other parent
  • Whether there is a history of abuse in the family

After carefully considering the relevant issues in the family's case, the judge will rule on the types of custody awarded to one or both parents. These include legal custody, which is the right to make all decisions for the child's life; physical custody, which is the right to have the child live at their residence; sole custody, which means both legal and physical custody are awarded to one parent; and joint custody, which involves each parent being awarded one type of custody or the parents sharing both types of custody.

If your family is in the midst of custody proceedings, it is important to ensure you understand your rights and options. Our experienced team at Claery & Hammond, LLPcan provide the caring legal counsel and tireless advocacy you need and deserve for your custody case. Please do not hesitate to contact our skilled attorneys today to discuss your situation and learn how we can help you protect your relationship with your children.