A child custody determination is first made by considering which parent has been primarily responsible for the child or children. The child’s age is then factored into the equation along with what arrangement between parents will be in the child’s best interests.
The Court will also consider the strength and nature of his/her relationship with each parent, as well as the parent’s past and present potential for performing parental functions. The emotional needs and developmental level of child are factored in combination with the child’s wishes, provided he/she is sufficiently mature enough to express such an opinion. Lastly, the parent’s employment schedule and the existence of a sibling or siblings are certainly considerations the Court will make in a child custody determination as well.
It is important to note that parental conduct detrimental to the child can limit that parent’s contact and/or visitation, as well as limit his/her ability to make decisions jointly with the custodial parent.
A child custody determination is not an easy determination for the Court to make. It is extremely comprehensive, yet is made in light of what parenting arrangement will best serve the child.