When you're going through a divorce, one of your main concerns may be losing custody of your child. Fortunately, most situations don't result in a parent losing access to a child. Instead, joint custody is preferred. Unless there is a situation involving domestic violence or other problems, it's likely that you or your spouse will have joint or shared custody. One of you may have primary custody with the other obtaining visitation rights. In both cases, sharing time with your child equitably is key to maintaining a good parent-child relationship.
What are the factors that play into custody decisions in court? Here are five that you should consider.
1. The courts consider which parent spends more time with a child
Before making a decision about whom your child should live with primarily, the court considers who the primary care giver has been. If you were a stay-at-home dad, the court likely would consider you a better choice for continuing the daily care of your child. This is similar to situations where women are stay-at-home mothers and already do a majority of the nurturing while the children's father is at work.
2. Your parenting skills come into question
Even if you don't spend as much time with your child as your spouse, the court does consider the kind of parent you are. If you take all the time you have on weekends to participate in extracurricular activities with your child while your spouse spends time going out and drinking as often as possible, the court is likely to look favorably at you. The court wants to see a parent's strengths and weaknesses.
3. Work schedule matters
Work schedules do matter to the court. If you work 60 hours a week, you have very little time to raise a child compared to someone who works 35 hours a week. A parent with more free time is more likely to have a child placed in his or her home.
4. Your child's opinion may matter
Depending on your child's age, your son or daughter may have input into where he or she wants to live.
5. Your ability to cooperate is important
Judges don't like to see parents who can't get along. If you or your spouse is making demands or speaking negatively about the other parent to your child, then that person could end up losing out on custody or visitation time.
These are just a few things to consider when you're seeking custody. Your attorney can help you understand what to expect.