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How a Judge Chooses Which Parent Gets Custody of a Child

When a judge is deciding who shall be granted custody of a child, there are many factors that can contribute to the final verdict. Overall, judges want to see a child live with the parent who will be most able to provide a safe, warm, and supportive environment for growth. During a custody battle, both parents will have the chance to plead their case in front of the judge. Many parents fighting for custody hire an attorney, for help getting prepared for this hearing. At the end of the day, the final outcome is likely to be what is in the best interest of the child.

As a parent gets ready for this emotionally agonizing process, he or she may want to do everything possible to win custody of their child. A child custody attorney can offer insight as a parent gathers information and proof, to help show they are most suitable to have custody. During a legal consultation, a parent may ask their attorney questions like the following:

Q: Will the preferences of my child be a factor?

A: Depending on the age of the child, the judge may ask who he or she prefers to live with. A judge may only ask a child this question if he or she is of an age where logical decisions can be made and expressed. In some cases, the judge may ask a child privately, out of respect for the parent’s feelings. However, the preference of the child is not likely to be the only factor for who is awarded custody.

Q: What are the main factors of a child custody verdict?

A: When a judge decides who is granted custody, he or she is probably going to look at the big picture of each parent?s situation. There is likely not one single factor that determines the outcome. Every judge may be different, but must operate based on the laws for the state. The main factors can include things like:

  • The willingness of each parent to work together with the other
  • The distance between each parent?s home
  • How the child may be impacted by a move or other changes
  • How much each parent makes in yearly income
  • The ability of each parent to provide a supportive environment

Q: Is it possible to receive joint custody?

A: If both parents are fit to parent and can work together well enough, the judge may decide that sharing custody is best for the child. In this way, the child can maintain a healthy and close relationship with each parent, without feeling as though they are being taken away from the other. But, in cases where abuse or neglect has occurred, a judge is not likely to put a child into this parent’s custody at all.

Q: What if one parent works much more than the other?

A: The capacity of each parent to provide financially to the child?s necessities for living is an important factor in awarding custody. But then, a parent that works too much may not be able to support the child’s mental, emotional, physical and developmental needs. If a parent spends most hours at work and lacks free time to spend with their child, this may not be the best situation either.

Contact Scroggins Law Group for their insight into family law and how a judge chooses which parent gets custody.

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*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.

**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)

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