HomeLifestyleHow The Court Determines Who Gets Child Custody 

How The Court Determines Who Gets Child Custody 

Divorce is rarely a simple and straightforward issue. But when you have kids, the process is bound to become more time-consuming and expensive. Once you and your spouse separate, it can be difficult to decide to get custody. But for divorce judges and courts, this is all in a day’s work. So, how does the court determine who gets child custody? Preferably, you should discuss matters with a family law attorney to understand who will get custody. 

Let’s discuss some of the factors that judges consider when determining which parent gets custody. 

Types of Child Custody 

For starters, you should understand that courts have different terms for child custody arrangements, such as legal and physical custody. 

  • Physical custody: This is how much time the child spends with each parent. It’s also known as visitation, parenting time, and timesharing.
  • Legal Custody: The ability to make major decisions for a child, such as healthcare and schooling. Usually, courts prefer giving parents joint legal custody so both of them have an equal say in their child’s health, education, and upbringing. 

In each arrangement, it’s possible for parents to have either joint or sole custody. In many cases, parents share joint legal custody, while one parent is the primary legal guardian, so the children spend less time with the other parent. Another arrangement involves children living with the primary legal guardian and seeing the other parent every weekend. 

It’s rare for one parent to have both sole physical and legal custody of the child. This is limited to cases where there’s a compelling reason for the other parent to not have time with the children.  

Determining Custody and Visitation

Preferably, parents should agree on a visitation schedule and legal custody to avoid going to court, where a judge will decide things. This allows parents to come up with a plan that suits their family’s needs rather than facing uncertain outcomes in court.  

At this point, it’s best to agree on how much child support the other parent will pay. If you’re calculating child support, it’s preferable to speak with a qualified attorney to understand what factors affect Nevada child support. Some of these include parent income and parenting time. 

The ‘Best Interests’ Standard  

When deciding who gets primary custody of the child, the aim is to decide in the child’s best interests. However, the factors that are considered as part of this process can vary in each state. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to consult a family law lawyer who’s also an expert on child support Las Vegas.  

That being said, some of the factors they consider include: 

  • Who the child wishes to stay with 
  • Age and gender
  • Special medical or emotional needs
  • Each parent’s ability to provide their child with basic necessities. 
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health 
  • Concerns regarding domestic violence 
  • The child’s current routine and living situation, including educational and extracurricular activities 

Who The Child Wishes To Stay With 

The court considers who the child wishes to stay with among the many aspects. Nevertheless, they can’t decide where they live or how often they see the other parent until they reach 18 years of age. Their wishes may be considered, but it’s not a guarantee.  

Custody Recommendations By Expert Evaluators

For an objective decision, the court may call on a mental health professional, custody evaluator, or social worker to recommend who gets custody. Courts often rely on insights from experts who have worked closely with the family, observed family members interacting with each other, and gathered information. 

Understanding Reasonable Visitation 

This refers to a timesharing agreement decided upon and created by both parents. They should work together on a plan that suits the family’s needs. It’s also a term that most courts use when giving the noncustodial parent the right to visit their children. Therefore, the custodial parent should allow reasonable contact with the noncustodial parent, including telephone calls and visitation. 

How Charges of Abuse or Endangerment Affect Visitation

Although judges usually find it in the child’s best interests to see both parents, this isn’t always the case. When one of the parents has a history of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, or other mental health concerns, judges may place restrictions on their visitation rights. 

Coming Up With a Visitation Agreement

In most states, child custody laws acknowledge the benefit of having children regularly meet both parents after separation or divorce. In amicable divorces, parents come up with their own visitation and custody agreement. They may agree that one will have sole physical custody while the other will be allowed reasonable visitation. They’ll also work out finer details like: 

  • A schedule for the noncustodial parent’s visitation, including specific days and times. 
  • Where will the children live 
  • Where children will spend major events like school vacations, birthdays, and holidays
  • Rules for make-up visitation when a parent is late or their schedule changes 
  • How parents will communicate sudden changes in their schedules 
  • Transportation arrangements when it’s time to visit the noncustodial parent 
  • Provisions to handle future disputes about parenting time and visitation

There are various scheduling arrangements that call for the noncustodial parent to have the children on alternating weekends, one day each week, or extended visits over the summer vacation. However, the great thing about parenting agreements is that both parents can come up with a schedule that meets their needs, as well as their children’s. 

However, if you and your co-parent can’t agree on visitation and custody arrangements, perhaps custody mediation can help you come up with relevant solutions. In many states, courts require both parties to participate in custody mediation to resolve any disputes. 

After agreeing on a parenting plan, you should submit the written and signed agreement to get the judge’s approval. As long as the plan is in the children’s best interests, judges usually approve the agreement and make it official with a court order. 

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