If you and your spouse fail to reach agreement as to your post-divorce custody arrangement, a judge will make those decisions for you.
FindLaw explains that while a judge’s primary goal is to determine “the best interests of the child” and decide all custody issues accordingly, this requires him or her to carefully consider numerous factors.
The judge will need to hear evidence about your and your spouse’s personal characteristics, such as the following:
- Does either of you suffer from a medical condition that makes parenting difficult?
- Does either of you have an alcohol or drug problem?
- Does either of you have difficulty controlling your temper?
- Does either of you have a job that requires you to work extra hours or travel frequently?
- Does either of you have a history of domestic violence, such as spousal abuse or child neglect or abuse?
The judge likewise will need to hear evidence about which of you performed the majority of the parenting activities during your marriage. Significant questions include the following:
- Who cooked the majority of the meals?
- Who oversaw bath time and other hygiene activities?
- Who decided what clothes, shoes, etc. to purchase?
- Who oversaw homework assignments?
- Who attended the majority of school functions and activities?
- Who assumed responsibility for your children’s health care, such as doctor and dentist appointments?
Based on the answers to all of the above questions, and possibly others as well, the judge will have the information he or she needs to decide which of you more likely will serve the best interests of your children.