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Understanding how child custody is determined

Parents always want what's best for their children. When it comes to divorce and decisions regarding children during a divorce, opinions between spouses on what is best for the children may vary. The courts also acknowledge and make decisions on what is in the best interests of the children during the process of a divorce. So, how do courts make these determinations?

One of the first things that courts will do is look at relationships. Relationships each child has with each parent, as well as the relationship between the parents. If a divorce is amicable and it can be proven that each side is willing and able to work together, joint custody may be an option. Joint custody means that each parent spends roughly equal time with their children. This does require a continual and copasetic relationship between the ex-spouses, as planning schedules is critical for joint custody to work.

More common is when one spouse gets physical custody and parents share legal custody. This means that the children will live with one parent while the other parent is granted visitation rights with the children. Having legal custody is important, as it means that both parents work together on decision-making regarding the upbringing of a child. This could include education, religion and medical decisions.

The family law courts will look at which parent is considered the general caretaker for the children, and may even ask the children for their opinions on the relationship they have with each parent. Ultimately, when making their child custody decision, courts will look at all the information and focus on what they believe will be in the best interests of the children.

Source:, "Child Custody Basics,", Accessed May 15, 2017

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