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Who receives custody of the children in a divorce?5 Nov 2016

Making the decision to divorce rarely comes easily to any couple, and it’s especially difficult when there are children involved. Parents love their kids, and they want the best for them. It’s also human nature to want the best for yourself, which is why family law attorneys hear the question, “Who gets the kids in the divorce,” more than any other question. The first thing to remember is kids are not possessions. They are people, and they have feelings. They’re not pawns designed to cause harm to your partner when you want to hurt them in a divorce. Who gets the kids in a divorce is a loaded question, and it’s not one with a simple answer. However, we start by admonishing any parents using their kids for cruel intentions to think twice.

For most divorce cases, the parents make the decision who gets custody. Family court prefers families come up with their own custody agreement without seeing a judge. The purpose of this is to get parents talking, to come up with an agreement that works well with everyone, and to show support for co-parenting. Just because your divorce is ongoing doesn’t mean you can’t remain cordial with one another for the sake of your kids. Mediation might be the next step if you cannot seem to come up with a solution that works well for both of you. If you fail to make any progress during mediation, your attorney will recommend you see a judge. Be warned that judges look deep into your life to educate themselves and make the best decisions, and it might not be one either of you is happy with. If you see a judge, he or she considers several factors.

In Cases of Abuse or Addiction

If one parent has a history of abuse or addiction that’s proven in court, the other parent tends to get custody of this kids. Typically, the clean parents without abuse or addiction issues is given primary physical custody, and the other parent is granted some sort of supervised visitation. In cases where there is abuse, most judges consider not allowing the abusive parent near the children.

Older Children

If your kids are old enough to make their own decision, the judge takes that into consideration. Your child might then choose which of you he or she prefers to live with full-time, and that decision isn’t always one you want to hear. Judges do consider other factors, too. Kids aren’t always known for making the most educated decisions regarding things of this nature. The judge will take his or her desires into consideration, and use that to help make his final decision.

Who Provides the Better Home?

Some people think having the bigger home or making the most money is what makes them a better parent. This is not true. The judge wants to know who is going to provide the most care for the child, and this includes which parent is more likely to allow extended family from both sides to visit with the children. The better home is the one with a more stable environment. Mom might make more money but if she travels most of the week every week, the kids are probably going to live with dad most of the time because he’s home more often. The better home is one in which the kids thrive most, and where they receive the most comprehensive care.

What are the Child’s Best Interests?

Kids are all different, and so are parents. When determining which parent gets custody of the kids in the divorce, a judge looks for the child’s best interest. For example, a child who would have to move from his childhood home to another state to live with one parent probably doesn’t need all that change at this point. A child with special needs probably needs to be with the parent who is more capable of caring for said needs. The factors judges take into consideration are individual, and no two cases are the same.

It’s your choice who gets custody of the kids, but you have to make the decision. If you’re unable to do that, the process is dragged out, it’s made longer and more tedious, and the result is not always what you wanted from the start.

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