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Updated by Andrea Friedman on Jan 09, 2018
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6 Things That Can Affect Child Custody

One of the most hotly-contested and complex family law issues is who gets custody. The single most important principle to a judge’s decisions regarding child custody is simple: what is in the best interest of the child? To make this determination, the court looks at a number of different factors. Take a look at a few of them now!

Source: https://www.sarifriedman.com/blog/2017/february/common-factors-affecting-child-custody/

1

Alcohol & Drug Use

Alcohol & Drug Use

A parent with a history of substance abuse is far less likely to receive custody than one who does not. Even so, the court will still consider all the facts to determine what is best for the child. For example, a recovering alcoholic may still win custody over a parent who has been entirely absent in the lives of the children.

2

Parental Availability

Parental Availability

A parent who is more available to their children and is more willing to change their lifestyle to match their new situation is more likely to be granted custody. This is opposed to a parent who, for example, works full time and is not willing to adjust their schedule to accommodate time with the kids.

Ultimately, a parent who can spend more time with their child is far more likely to get custody than one who cannot.

3

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

Whether or not the child was involved, if either parent has a history of domestic violence, the Court is likely to consider it against that parent when making their determination.

4

Financial Standing

Financial Standing

Each parent's financial standing does play a role in custody determination, but not in ways you might think. If a parent’s finances affect their ability to procure proper housing, this is more likely to affect a custody decision. It is not uncommon, however, for parents with a lesser financial standing to still be granted custody with the help of a child support order from the non-custodial parent in order to make ends meet.

5

Home Environment

Home Environment

Home environment plays a huge role in determining custody. Unstable, unsafe, or unhealthy homes (i.e. unsecured loaded weapons everywhere, messy and unhealthy surroundings, or rampant stress and chaos) will only hurt a parent's chances of winning custody. The most common situation, however, is the Court having to decide the better of two homes, because neither are bad.

6

Mental & Emotional Stability

Mental & Emotional Stability

The Court will lean heavily toward awarding custody to a parent who demonstrates emotional and mental stability. This is opposed to a parent who, for example, has severe anger issues or who, through testimony, is shown to be unfit. A parent’s willingness, or lack thereof, to support the child’s relationship with the other parent can play a part in this. The Court will likely look down upon attempts of parental alienation or sabotage and might even award custody to the other parent if they see this.