Maybe the biggest question mark for parents going through a divorce is what will happen to their children. Child custody is generally the most hotly contested topic in divorce, with money coming in second. If you are suffering nerves about where your child may end up, one of the best things you can do is inform yourself.

It is vital to remember that custody is determined by what is in the child’s best interests. As subjective as this may seem, judges will refer to several guidelines when deciding what a child’s “best interest” are. Below are a few of the main guidelines used to determine child custody.

Child custody is an extremely complex topic, and below is only an overview of what a judge will consider. The best way to fight for custody is to work closely with an experienced attorney.

What a judge will consider

As outlined by California legislative information, these are a few of the key definitions and provisions of what a judge will consider when determining child custody.

  • What the child’s overall health, safety and welfare will be with each parent.
  • If a parent has a history of abusing a child they were the caretaker of, the other parent, or a relation of the other parent such as a new spouse or roommate.
  • How much contact the child has had with both parents and the nature of their relationship.
  • If and how frequently a parent uses alcohol, illegal drugs or prescribed medications. The court may look at police reports, medical reports and other records.

The core of fighting for child custody is to always strive to do what’s right by your child. Give them a stable, safe home and the support they need to grow into healthy young adults. Following one or more of these more than the other parent will not necessarily guarantee sole custody of your child, but it will most likely go a long way when making your argument.

Unless there is a history of abuse, a willingness to put hard feelings toward your soon-to-be former spouse aside so that your child may have both parents in their life can also influence a judge’s ruling.

Divorce is a hard time for everyone involved, but maybe none more so than the children. Through the arguments and stress be sure to make time to let your child know that you care of them and you still want to be the best parent to them you can. In time the court proceedings will end, and you will be able to start your next chapter in life.