Custody Considerations

Custody Considerations: Step-By-Step


Divorces or legal separations can be an incredibly challenging process for parents but adding custody determinations to the process can make it even more catastrophic. Courts generally consider the best interests of the child above all else when coming to decisions, but that does not mean those decisions are easily made. The following are a couple of important factors courts consider when establishing who gets custody of a child.

Custody Consideration Number One: Kinds of Arrangement

One of the first steps in establishing who is going to get custody of a child is understanding your options concerning different kinds of potential custody arrangements. For instance, you and the child’s other parent might want to work out an arrangement in which you both make decisions concerning the child’s raising and well-being. This is referred to as “joint legal custody” in the majority of states. Or you may believe that the child’s other parent is presently unfit or incompetent of taking on any parental responsibility, in which case you might want to seek “sole custody” of your child.

Custody Consideration Number Two: The Decision-Maker (The Child’s Parents or the Court)

Frequently the answer to the question “who is going to get custody?” is going to be established through a process that is initiated by the parties involved in the child custody case. Final decisions are typically made by the child’s parents, the court, or a combining of both.

The Parents as Decision-Makers

In most cases in which parents come to an agreement out-of-court on child custody and parent visitation, the question of “which parent is going to get custody” is mainly up to the parents on their own, occasionally with input from attorneys, mediators or counselors. Custody and visitation agreements out-of-court can come by means of an informal settlement negotiation, or from out-of-court ADR proceedings such as mediation or collaborative law. In some states, parents getting divorced are required to seek custody dispute resolutions through mediation.

If parents getting divorced can come to a custody agreement out-of-court, and they can arrange an appropriate living and visitation schedule, then there is no pre-determined answer as to which parent is going to get custody. The parents are usually free to agree to whatever practical arrangement they decide on. The parents might agree to a joint custody arrangement in whereupon their children divide time living with each of the parents, and the parents agree to act as team concerning major decisions associated to the children’s raising and well-being. Optionally, the parents might agree that the child is going to live mainly with one parent, but there is going to be a plentiful visitation schedule for the other.

The Court as a Decision-Maker

When parents in child custody disputes don’t negotiate some sort of agreement prior to going to court, then the custody decision is going to be made in court, typically by a family court judge. The answer to the question of “which parent is going to get custody” is not easy to anticipate, but many courts follow a specific procedure, follow a number of general principles, and look to a conventional set of deliberations when making child custody determinations.

Custody Consideration Number Three: Elements and Preferences Impacting the Decision

Regardless of if the custody decision is the result of the parents’ agreement or a decision made by the court, several elements usually weigh on the decision making methods.

In just about every family court case where child custody is an issue, considerations such as “Who is the child’s primary caregiver?” and “What is in the best interest of the child?” are of primary concern to the judge making the custody decision. The judge is going to also usually take several other elements into account, including the child’s own preferences, in some situations.

Even when parents try to resolve child custody and visitation disputes through negotiations and settlement out-of-court, having those same considerations and elements in mind in attempting to reach a satisfactory agreement is going to be useful, if nothing else than to have the negotiations concentrated on coming to conclusions that are in the best interest of their child.

Custody Considerations in Non-Divorce Cases

Whereas child custody and visitation issues come up most often as part of divorces, parents going through a divorce are not the only people that might be involved in a child custody case. Custody disputes can come up among unmarried parents; grandparents can pursue to enforcing their rights of visitation with their grandchildren; and in uncommon cases, family members or others that have a close relationship with a child can pursue to be granted custody, particularly when they have acted as caregivers of the child.

Child Custody Can Be a Challenging Process When You Go It Alone: Find Local Legal Help Today

When you and your spouse are getting a divorce, or never got married in the first place, you may not agree on which parent gets custody of the child or what the custody arrangement appears to be. There are many elements to think about in these resolutions, but the court’s main concern is going to be the best interests of the child. One of the best ways to deal the process is to find guidance from a knowledgeable family law attorney.


  1. Staff, F. L. (2021, December 30). Custody considerations: Step-by-step. Findlaw. Retrieved November 2, 2022, from

Speak With Our Child Custody Attorney In Scottsdale

Our child custody and guardianship attorney in Phoenix and Scottsdale will advance your case with concern and personal attention and always have you and your children’s best interest in mind when offering legal solutions.

An experienced family law attorney will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation. We advocate for our clients, so they have the brightest future possible. Give us a call today at 480-999-0800 for a free consultation.


Jennifer Moshier Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Scottsdale Arizona
Jennifer Moshier, Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer

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