You’re likely to have a variety of child custody related concerns as you prepare for and move through the divorce process. Just the same, you could find yourself in the middle of a child custody dispute with an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.

It’s your hope that you can create a parenting agreement and visitation schedule with your ex without the need for litigation. However, if you’re not seeing eye to eye and can’t find any middle ground, you may have no choice but to go down this path.

When it comes to child custody decisions, the court will always take into consideration the best interests of the child. So, even if you or your ex wants something in particular, if it’s not best for your children, the court is likely to shut it down.

While no two circumstances are identical, there are some basic factors the court considers when making child custody decisions. These include:

  • The child’s input: If a child is old enough to share their thoughts with the court, they’ll definitely be taken into consideration.
  • Financial ability to provide care: It’s a must that the parent with custody has the means to provide a place to live, food, clothing and other essentials. This is often made possible through child support payments from the non-custodial parent.
  • The mental and physical health history of the parents: For example, if your ex has a long history of mental illness, the court may not agree to give them custody of your children.
  • History of drug, alcohol or child abuse: These are all things that family law courts take seriously, as they don’t want to put children into a home where one or more of these issues is present.
  • The current arrangement: Children require stability to maintain a healthy lifestyle and grow. The court will take the current living arrangement into consideration, as maintaining the status quo may be in the children’s best interest.

The court takes all these factors, among others, into consideration when making a child custody decision. Understanding these factors, the child custody process and your legal rights will help position you to get what you want.