How to Determine Custody

There are several key factors in determining child custody in the event of a divorce. The parents are the first custodial option. The current figures show that the mother is granted main custodial rights 70 percent of the time, the father is granted the rights 10 percent of the time and joint custody is granted twenty percent. However, sometimes neither the mother nor the father is qualified to care for the children. Generally, the court tries to keep the children with a family member but if unfit and if there are step-parents or grandparents in the picture, they may be called upon to be the legal caretakers. Other times, full custodial rights go to a legal guardian. Ultimately, these decisions are made according to the best interest of the child.

The parents may select their parenting plan for their children provided they are able to communicate clearly and agree on the outcome. If for some reason they cannot come to a mutually pleasing conclusion, they forfeit that right and the judge decides where the children will go. The judge may call on the assistance of a child psychologist, who studies the situation and presents his or her own thoughts and ideas.

If the parents are opting for a collaborative divorce or a mediated divorce, they may try to develop their own parenting plan together. If they are unable to do so, the mediator steps in and helps negotiate. Mediators may also be hired in the courtroom to settle child custody decisions. A couple may have difficulty deciding custody rights for a variety of reasons. Generally when a couple enters a custody battle, the conflict has escalated. The issues surrounding child custody disagreements include both legal custody and physical custody. The conflict involved in custody battles are taxing on everyone involved, but especially the children.

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