There are many things that need to be established and agreed upon during the process of a divorce, but often one of the most contentious issues and decisions to be made is child custody. Many factors are considered by the courts when determining child custody. Ultimately, the courts are looking out for the children, and will make their decisions based on the best interests of the child. Depending on the age of the children, courts may ask their own opinions regarding their parents; courts will also look at the living situation of each parent, and will consider each parent's character, including the physical and mental health of each parent and whether either parent has a criminal history or even drug or alcohol addictions.
Depending upon the situation of each spouse, the relationship between the spouses and the relationship between each spouse and the child or children, there may be a few different child custody options to consider. Legal or physical custody is custody awarded to one parent, and means that the child will spend a majority of the time with that parent, who also has the right to make decisions regarding the child's well-being such as the child's medical care and education.
If the relationship between both parents is sound and they have shown an ability to work together, joint custody may be an option. Joint custody is not without its own problems however. In joint custody, the child or children will spend equal time between both parents. To a child, this may appear to be an arrangement that is closer to the marriage, but at the same time, this also means that a child essentially has two homes, which may be discomforting to children unable to adjust to each situation.
When entering into a divorce, it is important for each spouse to enter the courts with a firm understanding of his or her wishes and to come prepared. The other spouse will have a team working hard on their side, and if you want decisions to go your way, whether it is property division, alimony, or child custody, it may be wise to find a firm dealing with family law to help you through the process.
Source: findlaw.com, "Child Custody Basics," Accessed on Oct. 27, 2016