What Will the Courts Consider When Deciding Whether to Award Full Custody of a Child?

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Going through a divorce is difficult enough, even when there are no children involved. However, if this is the only solution you have to move forward, you must take all the necessary precautions to protect the kids’ interests and well-being. 


You must keep this aspect in mind, especially during the custody discussions. Custody of the children can be decided through a private agreement between the parents or through a court’s intervention when an agreement cannot be reached. 


While an agreement between parents is the less stressful way (for the children), there are situations when this cannot be reached. In this case, there are a few things you need to know in order to be fully prepared for the bumpy journey that lies ahead.

Understand what Full Custody Means

There are many things you need to know if you are considering a divorce and children are involved. However, if you’re headed for a custody battle, you must make sure you understand the main implications of full custody and how the courts tend to decide on this matter. 


For instance, it isn’t true that the court will side with the mother in most of the cases. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of fathers who are custodial parents has increased from 16.0 percent in 1994 to 20.1 percent in 2018.


Also, there is a difference between full legal custody and full physical custody. The legal full custody of a child means that the custodial parent has the power of decision when it comes to the child’s health, travel arrangements, education, and welfare.


The physical full custody of a child implies that the child will have permanent residence at the custodial parent’s home. This arrangement is full-time, and the non-custodial parent can request the right to visit (supervised or not).

Key Factors Considered by the Courts

The Child’s Best Interests

When deciding on the child’s best interest, a court will try to identify the parent who can provide support for the child’s safety, happiness, mental and physical health, as well as ensuring their emotional development.


For this, the judge will consider the kid’s age, school situation, and relationships with siblings or other close family members. For this, the judge will try to evaluate who has been more involved in day-to-day activities like homework assistance or attending medical appointments. 


The courts prioritize this parameter above all because it provides a comprehensive overview of what would be most beneficial for the well-being of the child rather than focusing solely on parental rights or preferences. 

The Relationship Each Parent Has with the Child

The bond and relationship between parent and child paints a clear picture of how each parent interacts with their children, aids in their upbringing, and contributes to their overall well-being.


To establish this, courts will ask questions such as: 


  • Has one parent spent more quality time with the child than the other? 
  • Who takes on roles like helping with homework, attending parent-teacher meetings, or bedtime stories?
  • Who does the child lean more towards in terms of comfort and trust?
  • Who is immersed more in the child’s life and routine? 
  • Which parent-child relationship will better foster healthy growth if maintained even after separation or divorce?

Ability to Provide for the Child

This factor is not just about financial stability. A judge will also consider emotional provision and mental support. However, having the financial means to cater for costs like food, clothing, healthcare, education, and general upbringing is definitively crucial. 


The courts will evaluate each parent’s financial standing and ascertain who can feasibly provide the necessary resources that are necessary for raising a child.


Beyond finances, another significant factor considered is the parent’s mental and emotional well-being. 

Stability and Continuity in Home Environment

Considering the emotional turmoil that often accompanies divorce or separation, maintaining stability and continuity in a child’s home environment becomes crucial. 


The reason for this is simple – kids thrive on consistency. It gives them a reassuring sense of order amidst the chaos, helps them feel safe, and ensures normalcy. In order to maintain this consistency, courts take into account each parent’s living situation. 


This involves examining who can provide a stable home environment, considering factors like location close to school or other family members, neighborhood safety, and space appropriateness for children’s age or activities.


The aim here is not just about identifying the better home per se but establishing which parent will best serve as an anchor, offering security through consistency while upholding the physical and emotional well-being of the child during turbulent times.

Wrap Up

Understanding the key factors that influence court decisions when awarding full custody will help you make sure the process is as less stressful as possible for the children. 


In summary, courts will always prioritize the child’s best interests. For this, a judge will have to weigh in various factors from parental relationships, ability to provide, maintaining stability, and others to make sure the children are safe, happy, and thriving.