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Three factors divorcing parents should understand about custody

As a parent facing divorce, one of your biggest concerns may be about child custody. Your children are important to you, and it can seem absurd that you could be told that you can only see them on a schedule. However, there are three factors about child custody that can be helpful for you to understand if you are to reach the best possible child custody outcome.

Child custody is made up of two parts

Child custody involves two parts, which include physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis and who provides daily care for the child. Legal custody refers to the authority to make long-term decisions about the child’s upbringing. These decisions may include choices about the child’s religious training, the child’s school and the type of non-emergency medical care the child receives.

Cooperation can lead to more favorable results

In general, parents who are able to work together to come up with a mutually agreeable custody arrangement often reach more favorable results because they have more control over what those results are. When working together, parents can look for solutions that work best with each parent’s schedule and the needs of their children. Collaborating on a child custody arrangement can also help keep parental conflict from children, which can help them better cope with the divorce.

Judges prioritize the best interests of children

Working with your spouse on custody arrangements has many benefits, but finding a mutually agreeable option is not always possible. When a judge must decide what child custody arrangement is most appropriate, he or she will prioritize the best interests of your children when making that decision. When determining what might be in your children’s best interests, a judge can consider any factors he or she believes is relevant. Usually, the emphasis is on your children’s safety as well as their physiological, psychological and emotional well-being.

Some other factors judges may find relevant include:

  • The fitness of each parent
  • Each child’s relationship with each parent
  • The potential disruption to the children's lives
  • The ages of the children
  • The distance between each parent’s home
  • The parents’ ability to make shared child-rearing decisions

The custody of your children can be a sensitive matter. However, an understanding of your options and the decision-making process can help you make the best decisions for your situation.

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