Child custody decisions can have a significant impact on the lives of children, parents and families. For that reason, parents should be familiar with how child custody is determined when a child custody arrangement must be reached between the parents.
Factors used to determine child custody
Child custody factors that are used to make child custody decisions include:
- The love, affection and other emotional ties that exist between the child and the parents or parties involved;
- The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with love, affection and guidance and to continue their education and rearing in their religion;
- The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other care;
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining that environment and continuity for the child;
- The permanence of the proposed custodial home or homes when evaluated as a family unit;
- The moral fitness of the parents and parties involved;
- The home, school and community record of the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child when the child is evaluated by the family law court to be of sufficient age to express a preference;
- The ability and willingness of each of the parents to encourage and facilitate a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and their other parent and reasonable action to protect the child from domestic violence or sexual abuse from the other parent will be considered;
- Any domestic violence in the household; and
- Any other factors considered relevant by the family law court to determine child custody.
These factors are considered and evaluated to determine what is in the best interests of the child The court will only develop a child custody plan that is determined to be what is best for the child. Because this analysis helps the family law court and parents navigate the child custody process to arrive at a child custody arrangement, it is helpful for the parents to be familiar with these factors and what they mean as part of the process.