There is a reason why many people refer to child custody cases as battles: they typically involve two parents willing to do whatever they can to "win" parenting time with their child. However, custody is not about winning or losing; it is about protecting a child's best interests and securing a plan that allows a child to receive maximum love and support.
That being said, custody is not necessarily awarded to parents based on who serves the healthiest meals, makes the most money or attends to the most soccer games and band concerts. There are several factors used to determine custody. Below, we break them out into three different groups.
The financial elements
The courts don't necessarily care about how much money you make when it comes to custody, but they do consider things like:
- Your ability to provide basic things like clothes, food and shelter
- Whether you live in a safe place
- Your working hours and availability during parenting time
The physical elements
Your physical conduct and presence will have a significant impact on custody. For instance, the courts will consider:
- Your desire to actively participate in your child's life
- Any history of physical abuse or violence
- The child's living situation and exposure to others when he or she is with you
The emotional elements
Emotional factors are perhaps the most crucial when it comes to assessing what is in the best interests of a child. These include:
- The support and guidance you can provide
- The bond you already have with your child
- Your commitment to fostering your child's happiness and well-being
Keeping an eye on the bigger picture
These and all the other factors that go into child custody cases are important on their own. However, even if you are lacking in a couple areas, it doesn't mean you will not get custody. Courts -- and parents -- must consider the bigger picture when it comes to creating or approving a parenting plan.
Again, child custody cases are not about winning; they are about finding a plan that protects the best interests of the child. If you have questions or concerns about this process or any of the factors that the courts evaluate when determining custody, it can be a good idea to consult a family law attorney.