One of the most contentious issues in divorce proceedings is settling matters related to child custody. While property interests and issues of support can take up much of the procedure, the best interests of the child will generally be the top priority of all parties.
Both parents as well as the court have a role in allocating custody of the child. If parents cannot reach a workable agreement, then the court will step in and decide how legal and physical custody of the child is shared.
Outlined below are some of the key factors the court will consider during a child custody case.
The strength of the parent-child bond
One of the first aspects the court will explore is how strong the bond is between each parent and child. During the marriage, who has been ensuring that the child was fed, dressed and taken to school on time each day? Who participates in their extracurricular activities? How well does each parent know what’s happening in their child’s life?
Each parent’s living circumstances
It takes a significant amount of money to raise a child and the court will want to ensure that the child has access to everything they need. Food, clothing and access to education and healthcare are just some aspects that will be considered.
This isn’t to say that a parent with less income than the other parent is at an automatic disadvantage in a custody case, since support can help equalize the situation. The bigger question is whether there is room for the child in each parent’s house and whether the surroundings are reasonably safe for a child.
Each parent’s conduct and lifestyle
The conduct of each parent is vital during custody proceedings. If the court gathers substantial evidence that some form of physical or verbal abuse has occurred, this can impact custody rights. Even if one parent is simply being hostile and refusing to cooperate, this will generally be frowned upon.
There are many factors the courts will consider during custody procedures, but the best interests of the child will always be at the center of rulings. If you have queries about the process, make sure you examine your legal options in more detail.