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Factors Considered when Determining Child Custody

You have been happily married for a number of years and got a child or two from your marital union; or you may have had a short romantic fling that ended up with conceiving a child; or maybe the child requires a legal guardian from one reason or the other. Children require someone who has their best interest at heart and that is why family court take child custody cases seriously. Child custody in the legal circles refers to who has the legal mandate to make decisions in the life of a child. Child custody can be given solely to an individual or it can be joint (i.e. custody that is granted to both parents) or the court may decide to grant sole custody to one parent and the other is granted visitation rights only. There are many factors to be considered when the courts are determining a child custody case and this article will address some of them.

Age and Gender of the Child:

One of the factors that determine who gets legal custody of a child is the child’s age and gender. The court is more likely to grant the mother custody if the child is below seven years of age or if the child is female. The father can also be granted custody if a male child is involved. This is not the only factor that would be considered as the number of children is also an important factor the judge or magistrate will consider.

The Child’s Wishes:

The child’s preference if he or she is of adequate age and capability to reason so as to make an intelligent decision is considered. The court will take the child’s wishes into the final custody decision that it will make. The opinion of a child can determine where the child ends up living and the responsibility of each parent.

Conduct of the parties:

The ability of the parents to communicate and make mutually agreeable decisions in case of being granted joint custody is also put under consideration in determining custody cases.  The parents’ compliance to custody agreements and any history of indisposition to consent to visitation that is not based upon substantiated abuse or any legal reasons are also considered. If the parties cannot agree on the well being of the child then it is highly likely that joint custody will not be considered.

The Environment:

Where the child will live as well as the people the child will be exposed to will be put under consideration. Any history of domestic violence and child abuse in the home environment will be investigated as well as how the child interacts with the parents and other siblings. The quality of the home environment as well as care provided will also a factor that the court will factor in when coming up with its decision. The safety of the child in addition to the proximity to social amenities and educational facilities will also be considered. If joint custody is a possibility, the geographical proximity of the parents’ houses will also be factored in into the court’s decision. The time spent with the child and how well both parties interacted with the child before separation or divorce will also be a determining factor of child custody cases.

Other factors:

The customs and cultural background of the child is also considered and the environment that will give the child the best cultural experience while respecting the customs of the community will also be considered. Religion is also an important factor that is considered in determining child custody. There are many other factors that the courts will considered before granting child custody and it depends on the laws of the land and the special circumstances that each case presents.