What determines child custody when parents are not married?

When parents separate, the question of who will receive custody remains a sensitive topic. The marital status of the mother and father makes little difference from an emotional standpoint.

Regardless of the circumstances, a host of factors determine the outcome.

The best interests of the child

Courts evaluate what living situation will most effectively support the child’s emotional and psychological needs. Among other factors, family courts consider the youth’s age and health. The goal is to create an environment where a minor can thrive.

Parent-child relationships

Parents dedicated to nurturing and supporting their children often have a favorable perception. Thus, the one who has been the primary caregiver typically enjoys an advantage in custody decisions.

Stability and continuity

Courts prefer consistency in any child’s living arrangements, school and social environs. If either parent can provide a more stable home, that may influence the custody ruling.

Parental home conditions

The suitability of each adult’s living situation also plays a role. Judges assess the safety and appropriateness of both residences. They then decide which location is best for the juvenile based on what they learn.

The child’s preferences

Sometimes, a family court considers the child’s wishes, especially if the offspring is older and capable of making informed decisions. Although the young person’s desires are not the sole determining factor, they can influence the results.

Parents who never marry love their sons and daughters as much as those who engage in holy matrimony. If the relationship fizzles and it becomes no longer possible to operate as a family unit, the legal system does its best to order a beneficial judgment.


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