Who gets custody? How can a court decide?

When deciding who gets custody of a child, there are lots of things to consider. The child's best interests are the primary concern, so parents need to consider that first. For instance, if the child's mother is always available during the day and the father is available on weekends, then a custody arrangement that works with that schedule will give the child time with both parents when they aren't busy.

If the parents can't agree on custody, then the courts have to make the decision for them. This is difficult, but the court looks at numerous factors to make the decision. It's normal for the court to award the child's primary caretaker custody, but depending on the situation, that isn't always the case.

Some of the things the court looks at include who performed tasks at home like shopping for groceries, doing laundry, buying clothing, maintaining the home, feeding the children or other chores. The court wants to know if the tasks are shared or performed individually. After reviewing who does what, the court can get an idea of which parent spends more time with the child or if the parents work well together to provide relatively equal support.

As a parent, it's important that you keep track of all the things you do for your child if you have to go to court to defend your right to custody. It may seem extreme, but having a time sheet or list of things you do during the week will help you show why you're the parent who deserves custody and does the most for your child.

Source: FindLaw, "Checklist: Who Gets Custody?," accessed Oct. 05, 2017

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