How Child Custody Decisions Are Made

How Child Custody Decisions Are Made

There are a multitude of important concerns whenever child custody rights are established. If you’re experiencing a divorce, you are going to want to know if your child is going to live primarily with you, and when not, if you are going to be able to make vital decisions as to how your child is going to be brought up. If you’re a close family member or family friend of a child that is not your own, you might be asking yourself if gaining custody of that child is even possible.

For parents and those lacking the knowledge with the child custody system and family courts, they might question: In what way are child custody decisions established? The below is a brief post regarding making child custody decisions.

Divorce and Child Custody Decisions

If you’re a parent thinking about divorce, or when you are presently involved in the process, you are most likely wondering how child custody and visitation matters are settled. Overall, child custody and visitation is going to either be decided by an agreement between the divorcing spouses (typically with the assistance of attorneys and mediators) or by the court system.

To be more specific, custody and visitation decisions usually are settled in one of two primary ways in divorces:

  1. The parents reach a settlement concerning child custody and visitation, as a result of informal agreement negotiations (typically with the assistance of attorneys) or out-of-court alternative settlement resolution proceedings such as mediation or “collaborative law” (typically with the assistance of attorneys).
  2. The court decides on child custody and visitation (typically a family court judge).

Un-Married Parents and Child Custody Decisions

The un-married parents’ rights in child custody may be subject if both are legally accepted as the parents of the child. When the parents are unmarried, the parents may have to recognize the father’s paternity. When the father’s paternity is not willingly recognized, the court may have to determine paternity with a DNA test.

Typically, each of the parents have a legal right to be involved in their child’s life. This comprises of making parenting decisions for vital matters such as education, healthcare, and faith. It is commonly best for everyone when the parents can agree to a child custody and visitation arrangement devoid of going to court. This enables the parents to devise an agreement that works ideally for them, without relying on a judge to create with the agreement. If the parents are unable to agree or mediation is unsuccessful, the case is going to have to be determined by a family court judge.

The court might prefer giving both parents shared custody, however, in some situations, primary custody of one parent with visitation rights by the other parent might be in the child’s best interests. The court might use several considerations when making child custody decisions, comprising of:

  • Balance and continuity of the child’s home life, education, and community life
  • Availability of extended relatives
  • Record of abuse
  • Child’s choice (typically granted more weight with older children)
  • The child’s psychological, developmental, physical, educational, and special needs
  • At the end of the day, the court is going to base their decision on what it deems best serves the best interests of the child.

Non-Parental Child Custody Determinations

Other family members or significant people in the child’s life might also have an interest in guaranteeing the child is taken care of. Non-parents that might want to take custody of a child may comprise of stepparents, grandparents, or other family members, specifically if they have been the child’s caregiver.

In some instances, family members or other people or agencies might file for custody rights of a underage child. This usually requires demonstrating the child is in peril or the parent is incompetent or has deserted the child. If a non-parent files for custody, the court is going to decide if the parents are incompetent or if the non-parents can take provisional custody.

Step-parents usually don’t have legal rights (or obligations) over the child of their spouse. For a step-parent to gain custody and visitation rights for the child, the step-parent is going to have to adopt the child. This usually requires having one of the parents relinquish their parental rights, so the child is able to be adopted.

In many states, grandparents may be awarded visitation rights. For instance, in North Carolina, a decree for custody of a minor child might offer for visitation rights for a grandparent where there is a “significant relationship.”

Questions Concerning How Child Custody Decisions Are Determined? Speak with an Attorney

If you’re experiencing a child custody dispute, you are going to want to know the laws and how decisions concerning your child are going to be made. A great way to find about the child custody laws in your state is to get ahold of a local child custody attorney that can explain the laws and stand for your interests.


  1. Staff, F. L. (2021, December 28). How child custody decisions are made. Findlaw. Retrieved December 12, 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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