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How do I get custody of my children in a divorce?

Getting custody of your children may be a high priority for you in a divorce. As a result, it is helpful to understand how child custody decisions are determined. To begin with, it is helpful to know how the family law court evaluates child custody disputes. Child custody decisions are based on a variety of factors that the family law court takes into account when determining custody.

Child custody factors are aimed at determining what is in the best interests of the child and developing a child custody arrangement that serves that interest. Factors the family law court will consider when determining child custody and what is in the best interests of the child include: the parent's ability to provide the child with everyday essentials; the mental and physical medical history of the parents; the parent's habits, including any alcohol use or smoking; the wishes of the parents; and the emotional bonds between the child and each parent.

In addition, the family law court will consider: the willingness of each of the parents to support the child's relationship with the other parent; the child's age, sex and mental and physical medical history; the child's wishes, generally, if they are beyond a certain age, such as 12 years old; the child's current quality of life; the level of adjustment that would be required for the child to move to a new city, state or school; and other factors as well. The court will also evaluate which parent can provide the child with a stable household and which parent is the primary caregiver, which is why the parent the child remains with during the divorce process may have a stronger claim for custody in some circumstances.

There are many complexities associated with child custody decisions and a variety of different types of child custody arrangements to be familiar with. Because the family law court will always seek to fashion a child custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child, it is useful for parents to be familiar with this standard and what it means for them and for their children during the divorce process.

Source:, "Getting Custody FAQ," Accessed May 8, 2018

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