Steps to Get Custody of a Child

Steps to Get Custody of a Child

One of the more challenging processes for parents to endure is the custody determination by the court, most commonly done following a divorce or legal separation. Courts usually take into account the child’s best interests above everything else, but this is a hard choice to make in a lot of cases. The following are a couple of important factors regarded by courts when establishing who gets custody of their child.

Custody Consideration Number One: Kind of Arrangement

A primary step in determining who is going to get custody of a child is to understand your options concerning different kinds of possibly custody arrangements. For instance, you and the child’s other parent might want to work out an arrangement in which each of you make decisions regarding the child’s raising and well-being. This is referred to as “joint-legal custody” in a lot of states. Or you might believe that your child’s other parent is presently unfit or inadequate to provide any parental responsibility, in such case you might want to seek “sole custody” of your child.

Custody Consideration Number Two: The Decision-Makers (Parents or Courts)

Typically, the answer to the question of “who is going to get custody?” will be established in first and foremost by the method that is followed by the people involved in the child custody case.

The Parents as the Decision-Makers

In a lot of cases in which parents come to an out-of-court agreement on child custody and visitations, the question of “who is going to get custody” is primarily up to the parents themselves, typically with guidance from attorneys, therapists, or mediators. Out-of-court custody and visitation agreements might come because of informal settlement negotiations or following the parents participating in out-of-court alternative conflict resolution proceeding such as mediation and/or collaborative law. In many states, divorcing spouses are required to at least try the resolution of custody conflicts using mediation.

When divorcing parents can reach an agreement outside of the courts on the custody of their children, and they are able to orchestrate an appropriate living and visitation schedule, then there will be no set answer as to who is going to get custody. The parents might agree to a genuine joint custody arrangement whereas their children divide their time living with each of their parents, and agree to work alongside one another on major decisions associated to the children’s upbringing and well-being. Or, the parents might agree that the children are going to live primarily with one parent, but there is going to be ample visitation schedule for the other.

The Court as the Decision-Makers

When parents in a child custody conflict do not negotiate some sort of agreement prior to going to court, then the custody ruling is going to be made in court, typically by a family court judge. The answer to the question of “who is going to get custody” is not easily anticipated, but in determining child custody decisions a lot of courts follow a specific procedure, follow a number of general principles, and look to a conventional set of considerations.

Custody Consideration Number Three: Detriments and Preferences Impacting the Decision

Nevertheless, if the custody decision is determined by the parents’ agreement or through the courts decision, there are a number of detriments that usually weigh on the decision-making procedure.

In just about all family court cases in which child custody is of concern, considerations like “Who is the child’s principal caregiver?” and “What is in the best interests of the child?” are of primary interest to the judge determining the custody decision. The judge will also typically take a number of other detriments into account, including what the child prefers in some cases. Even when the parents try to settle a child custody and visitation using negotiation and settlement outside of the courts, it is going to help to have these same deliberations and detriments in mind in trying to come to a reasonable agreement, if for no other justification than to keep the negotiations concentrated on coming to outcomes that are in the best interest of their children.

Custody Considerations in Non-Divorce Cases

Whereas child custody and visitation matters arise most typical as part of divorces, parents going through a divorce are not the only individuals that might be involved in a child custody case. Custody challenges can emerge among unmarried parents; grandparents can pursue to impose their rights to visit with their grandchildren; and in rare cases family members or others that have a close relationship with a child might pursue to be granted custody.

Child Custody Can Be a Challenging Process If You Go It By Yourself: Obtain Legal Help Today

When you and your spouse are getting a divorce, or never got married, you may not be in agreement on who gets custody of the child(ren) and when. There are a lot of components to this decision, but the court is primarily responsible for the best interests of the child. One of the best ways to get an idea of the process is to seek counsel from a knowledgeable family law attorney.


  1. Custody considerations: Step-by-step. Findlaw. (2018, September 27). Retrieved October 11, 2021, 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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