What Factors Does a Court Consider When Determining Child Custody?

Child custody issues are clearly complex and the stakes are so high that you should have an excellent firm with solid legal advice to help you through. That being said, here are some general things to note. Based on a number of key factors, the judge will make a decision as to who receives custody of their child in a divorce. These factors may not apply to every case, but they will all be considered each time.


The judge is looking for a home that’s safe for the child. If there has been a history of domestic abuse or if the child demonstrates that they don’t feel safe with one of the parents, then custody isn’t likely to be granted to that parent. Safety concerns also extend to financial security. The judge is more likely to grant custody of the child to whomever has a more financially stable home, and proof of steady income and a reliable work history will factor into that.

The judge may weigh certain factors more heavily than others, though and determining custody is not simply a process of checking off boxes for each parent then counting those up to see who has the most points.

Emotional Well-being

What tends to weigh most heavily with the judge is the promise of the child’s emotional well-being. Generally, the mother is seen as the nurturer and the one who can provide the most emotional security for the child. The judge will consider who the child is most attached to, who they have spent the most time with and who is most able to provide for their needs at the child’s stage of development.

If the child is of age to make an informed and intelligent decision, the judge may take into consideration any decision the child makes concerning their preferred parent.

How much time was spent with the child before separation or divorce will also be factored in, as this shows to some degree who cares more for the child or who the child is more attached to.

Other Factors

There are a number of other factors the judge may consider when making the decision for custody. The number of children and their age can make a difference as to who the child or children go with. How fit each parent is and their ability to care for the children needs to be considered as well.

In the end, the judge will always look toward the best interests of the children. That is the final and overriding consideration and it determines the importance of all the other factors.