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  • The primary concern of the court is the best interests of the child. To this end, the court will look at all relevant factors concerning the child’s wellbeing in deciding how custody ought to work.

    Such factors include:

    • The child’s age and gender
    • The child’s needs
    • Both parent’s age, character, stability, health, capacity, and ability to meet their child’s needs
    • Each parent’s relationship with the child
    • The home environment each parent can offer the child
    • The child’s preference if of sufficient age
  • The court typically assumes the child’s interests are best served by maintaining as much equal contact with both parents as possible and so will lean towards awarding join custody to both parents. This will mean both parents will share in the right to make major decisions in their child’s life including their schooling and healthcare choices.

  • If there is a significant reason to restrict one parent’s access to their child such as domestic violence, the court can award sole custody to the other parent.

    • If the parents agree to joint custody
    • If the parents have shown they can work together
    • If each parent can foster a good relationship between the child and other parent
    • Any history of inappropriate behavior by either parent
    • The physical proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The court can appoint your children an attorney if it feels they need it. This attorney is called a guardian ad litem (GAL) and are chosen by the judge to only represent the children’s interests. Both parents will usually pay the GAL a fee.

  • State law gives the court the power to decide custody cases. They may choose to hear the child’s wishes, but the child does not get to choose where to live.