What Determines Which Parent Gets Custody Of A Child In A Divorce Case?

14 August 2015
 Categories: Law, Blog


A divorce case that involves children is often more difficult than one between a couple that does not have children. Not only must the judge hearing the case divide the marital property and debt accordingly, but he must also decide which parent will be most suitable to have physical custody of the children.

These are some things a judge must consider before deciding which parent will get physical custody of a child in a divorce proceeding:

Financial Stability 

The judge will look at the household income amounts of each parent. This tells him which parent can best provide for the child so that all the child's needs are met. However, the judge may also consider which parent has steady income. If one parent is laid off from work for part of the year, this may make providing for the child more difficult.

Even if one parent has a higher income than the other, this does not guarantee the child can be provided for. The judge will also look at the household bills and other debt the parent has to decide how much will be left over to provide for the child. 

Home Environment 

Another factor of determining which parent will best manage physical custody of the child is the type of environment the child will be living in. If one parent lives in a quiet area that has a low crime rate, this could be the best place for the child to reside. If the other parent's home is in an area where the child may be in potential danger, the judge is less likely to grant that parent custody.

Relationship of the Child and Parent 

The relationship of the parent and child also plays a role in who will have physical custody. If the parent is willing to take physical custody, has a strong bond with the child and has always been very active in the child's life, he may be considered the best parent for the child to live with.

Criminal History of the Parent 

If either of the parents have a criminal history, this can greatly affect who gets physical custody of the child. If there are any charges of child abuse, domestic violence or other violent crimes, the parent who has this type of criminal history is not likely to be granted custody.

The Preference of the Child 

Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the judge may also consider which parent the child prefers to live with. In some states, a child is able to make this decision once he reaches the age of 14. However, if the judge feels the child's preference is not the best choice, he may grant physical custody to the other parent.

A family court judge must weigh the pros and cons of each parent to determine which one will give the child the best life. This decision is always made according to the best interest of the child. Contact a divorce lawyer if you have more questions.