Parents often assume that the court, during a divorce case, decides custody based on what the parents want. They think that getting to court with a strong argument for why they should get their way is the best tactic to see those results.
While the desires of the parents do factor in, remember that the true goal for the court is to consider the child’s best interests. These may be very different from what the parents would prefer. For instance, courts generally assume it is best for most children to see both parents in some capacity, which may be very different than the preferences of two parents who are both seeking sole custody.
What else factors in?
The court considers many things when determining what is in a child’s best interests, including:
- The child’s physical and mental health, along with any special needs
- The parents’ physical and mental health
- The age and gender of the child
- Where the child will live and how safe and comfortable that living situation is
- How they can maximize stability for the child
- Each parent’s history of criminal activity, drug use, and the like
- The child’s own desires, especially with older children
- The parents’ roles in the child’s life and who is the primary caretaker
There are many things that may play a role and every divorce case is unique. Never assume you’ll have the exact same outcome that someone else did or even the outcome that you want. Instead, consider the court’s goals, your legal options and how you can use them to get results that are best for your family.