When a marriage that includes children comes to an end, it is often the children who suffer the most. Therefore, the judge who hears the divorce case in court must decide which parent is most suitable to have custody.

In many cases, joint custody is given so that both parents have equal time with the children and can both take part in raising them. However, if the parents dispute this or are not found to be equally capable of parenting, the judge must decide what is in the best interest of the children. These are some factors that help determine which parents get custody of the children in a divorce case.

Age of the Child 

While it is not as common as in recent years, the age of the child may still determine who gets custody of the child. For instance, if a child is still an infant and requires care around the clock, the mother may be more likely to get custody if the judge finds her a fit mother.

This does not mean the father is unable to properly care for the infant, but he may have a busier work schedule outside his home that prevents him from nurturing and caring for a young child as needed.

Living Situation of the Parents 

One of the most important factors that determine child custody in a divorce is the living situation of the parents. The child must be given a stable, loving home where all his needs can be met. If one parent has a safer, cleaner, more reliable place to live, this parent will most likely be granted full custody.

The judge will also consider who else resides with the parents when deciding which one will be given full custody. If either parent has other household members who have a criminal history, this may not be considered a stable home. If the parent lives in a small, overcrowded home, this may also not be in the best interest of the child.

Relationships of the Parents and Children 

Another factor that is considered when granting custody is the relationship of the parent and the child. If the child has a substantially better relationship with one parent than the other, it may be best to grant that parent full custody. While the non-custodial parent would still have visitation with the child, the more stable relationship would provide an emotionally healthier environment.

The judge may also examine how willing one parent is to encourage a good relationship between the child and the other parent. If it appears that one parent will try to hinder this, the other parent may be more emotionally stable.

Even if one parent is given full custody, the other parent usually gets some form of visitation rights. Unless one parent has been extremely abusive to the child or has been found guilty of criminal activity, it is very unlikely that parental rights will be given to one parent only.

For more information, check out companies such as Knochel Law Offices.