If you are going through the divorce process, you know first-hand the difficulties that come with negotiating the terms of your final settlement. One of the most challenging topics to tackle is often child custody. While both parents may want to have primary custody of the child, the court must determine which situation honors the best interests of the child.
According to the North Carolina Judicial Branch, the court will look at the unique circumstances surrounding the situation to determine the best place for the child. When both parents can come to an agreement, they may discuss child custody terms through mediation and file their customized plan with the court. If you cannot come to an agreement, you may have to leave the ultimate decision for the court to decide.
What factors do the courts consider?
When looking at a child custody case, the court may consider the following factors:
- Ability to provide a safe, loving and nurturing environment for the child
- Availability to spend quality time with the child
- Age, physical health and mental health of each parent
- Special needs of the child
- Whether violence was involved in the house
It is also important to look at who provided the greatest amount of care for the child during the marriage. That parent often develops a strong relationship and bond with the child.
What type of custody do courts prefer?
While studies show that children often achieve better development if they spend a significant amount of time with both parents, it is not always best for every situation. The court may place some children in the sole custody of one parent and award visitation to the other parent. This may be best for school-aged children who do not want to bounce back and forth between living situations. Joint custody may also work when parents live close together and both play an active role in the child’s upbringing.