Some of the biggest concerns divorcing parents tend to have include who will end up with custody of their child and how that decision will be made. Fortunately, parents are encouraged to work together to find an agreeable custody option, and when parents collaborate, they usually have more control over the results.
If you and your spouse have difficulties working together, mediation or arbitration might be appropriate to try. You may even be required to try mediation before your case can be heard by a judge. Courts often favor alternative dispute resolution techniques for child custody matters because when parents collaborate there is usually less stress for the parents and the child. Also, parents tend to know their child best, so they are positioned well to come up with the arrangement that would be in the child’s best interests.
A judge will put your child’s best interests first
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement despite your efforts in mediation, a judge may decide the custody arrangement. A judge will not favor one parent over the other because of gender. A judge will base his or her custody decision on the best interests of your child.
The judge can consider any relevant factor when determining your child’s best interests. Some factors that a judge may find relevant, include:
- Your child’s safety
- Each parent’s living arrangements
- Each parent’s ability to provide care
- Your child’s relationship with you and your spouse
- Any history of domestic violence
- Your child's wishes
Dealing with child custody matters can be difficult regardless of who makes the final decision. However, it is important that the final child custody decision is one that puts your child’s needs first.