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How is child custody determined?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2020 | Divorce

When a couple gets a divorce, one of the main questions that need answering is how much time each parent is going to spend with their child or children. The general assumption is that 50/50 custody is in the best interest of the child. This means the child will spend the time equally distributed between each parent. 

This is the preferred custody arrangement as long as the parents agree and both are willing to invest in their child’s life. 


Sometimes, if parents cannot agree on the logistics or time allotment regarding child custody, they may bring in a mediator to bring the conflict to a resolution. The mediator is an objective third party who may be able to assist the couple and help them reach an agreement. However, if they cannot reach a resolution, the family may have to go to court and have a judge decide how to allocate the child’s time between parents. 

Judicial considerations 

The most important factor that the judge considers when making this decision is what is in the best interest of the child. The judge will look at several factors to assess the best interest of the child: 

  • If the child is at least 12 years old, does he or she prefer to live primarily with one parent over the other? 
  • Is there any history of child abuse by either parent? 
  • Is there any history of domestic abuse by either parent towards either parent? 
  • How mentally and physically healthy is each parent? 
  • Has each parent worked to maintain a stable relationship with the child? 
  • Is each parent willing to work with the other parent in the best interest of the child? 
  • Are there any negative outside influences or people in either household? 
  • Is one household more conducive to the child’s ability to maintain a relationship with his or her siblings? 

The judge will take all of these factors into consideration to determine what custodial parenting split is in the best interest of the child.