Custody decisions: What determines the custodial parent

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2023 | Family Law |

When parents separate or divorce, determining the custodial parent is a decision that influences the child’s upbringing and well-being.

Here are the key elements that courts take into account when making this significant determination.

The child’s best interests

According to the National Library of Medicine, 72% of divorces occur within the first 14 years of marriage which means many parents with young children face custodial decisions. Courts prioritize creating an environment that fosters the child’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being. Factors such as the child’s age, health and relationship with each parent are part of the assessment. The court considers the ability of each parent to provide a nurturing environment.

Parental involvement and availability

The court evaluates each parent’s willingness and ability to participate in the child’s daily activities, including education, extracurricular pursuits and medical care. The court also gives consideration to the parent’s availability, both in terms of time and proximity to the child’s residence.

The child’s preferences

Depending on the child’s age and maturity level, the court may take their preferences into account.  The input of older children reflects their evolving needs and desires. The court assesses whether the child can articulate their preferences and if those preferences align with their best interests.

Parental cooperation and communication

Courts assess each parent’s willingness and capability to co-parent amicably. A demonstrated commitment to fostering a positive relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent is highly valued.

History of care and responsibility

The court takes into consideration each parent’s history of caregiving and responsibility. Demonstrated dedication to the child’s overall well-being carries substantial weight.

Stability and living arrangements

A stable living environment is fundamental for a child’s development. The court evaluates the stability of each parent’s residence and examines whether the custodial parent can provide a consistent and reliable living situation.

Determining the custodial parent in child custody cases is a complex process. By understanding the key factors involved, parents can better prepare for the custody evaluation process and work towards a resolution that serves the child’s well-being above all else.