Custody Considerations: Step-By-Step

Consideration 1: Custody Arrangement

To determine who will get custody, you must first understand the different types of custody arrangements. For example, you and your spouse may prefer to have a custody arrangement wherein both of you would like to take decisions that affect the children’s welfare such as education, medical care and religious ceremonies. This is generally referred to as joint custody. If one parent is unfit or incapable of fulfilling parental responsibilities, the other parent can seek sole custody of the children.

Consideration 2: Negotiation or Litigation

Out of Court Settlement. Child custody issues can be settled through negotiation or out of court settlement or through litigation. Generally the divorcing couples reach an out of court settlement in majority of child custody cases. The spouses decide who gets custody and the agreement is submitted to the court for approval. The spouses can negotiate with one another directly or through their attorneys. The spouses can also use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like collaborative law process and mediation. In some states, the law requires the divorcing couples to attempt resolving child custody through mediation.

If the spouses are able to reach an agreement on child custody and visitation, they can very much decide the type of custody arrangement and visitation schedule. For example, they could agree that the children will spend the week with the mother and the weekends with the father or spend time equally with both parents while both parents retain legal custody.


If the parents cannot reach an agreement, then the court will decide on the issue of child support. In such cases, it is not easy to predict who will get custody of the children. The court considers many factors to determine who gets custody.

Consideration 3: Primary Caretaker, Best Interests of the Child

Two important considerations in a child custody case are who the primary caretaker is and what is in the best interests of the child. The judge will look at many factors to decide who the primary caretaker is and what is in the best interests of the child. Even if spouses want to settle the issue of child custody out of court, they should give serious consideration to these two factors. The best interests of the child should be the ultimate goal of the out of court settlement.

• Best interests of the child
• Primary Caretaker
• Preference of the Child
• Role of Religion in Child Custody
• Child Custody and Homosexual Relationships
• How Non-Marital Sexual Relationships Can Affect Child Custody

Non-Divorce Cases

It’s not just married couples who are fighting a divorce who have to deal with the issue of child custody. Even unmarried couples with children wanting to terminate their relationship often have to deal with the issue of child custody. Sometimes, even third parties other than the parents such as grandparents and other close relatives of the children can apply for custody of the children.

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