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If the parents are unable to agree upon custody of the minor children, the judge will consider what is in the children’s “best interests” and will usually award sole custody to one parent. However, if the parents are in agreement the judge may award joint custody, shared custody, or divided custody. In determining which parent should have custody, the judge will consider the following factors:

Moral Fitness

  • Integrity
  • Character
  • Compassion
  • Sobriety
  • Religious training
  • Newly acquired partner on above

Stability

  • Emotional stability
  • Work stability
  • Financial stability
  • Residence and school stability
  • Health
  • Partner stability

Love and Affection

  • Fault in divorce
  • Attention given
  • Discipline
  • Attitude toward children
  • Social attitude

The Child

  • Stated preference
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Health
  • Testing and evaluation
  • Child care arrangements

The Home

  • Location
  • Room for child

Gender

Types of Custody

Sole Custody

A parent with “sole custody” or “full custody” makes all decisions concerning the child: school, church, doctor, extracurricular activities, piercings, tattoos, hair length, hair color, dating, auto privileges, summer school, etc. A parent with sole custody may usually relocate with the child without prior court approval.

Joint Custody

The implications of an award of joint custody are not defined in the law. Obviously, since both parents have “custody,” they should discuss and agree upon major decisions concerning the child. However, no parent has the final say if an agreement cannot be reached. The dates and times when each parent shall exercise his or her custody must be specified. Normally, neither may relocate the child without the other parent’s agreement.

Joint Custody with One Parent being Primary Residential Custodian

Here, even though both parents have input on the decision, one parent has the final say if an agreement cannot be reached. The other parent usually pays child support and receives specified visitation.

Shared Custody

In true shared custody, the minor children usually reside an equal amount of time with each parent, and no child support is paid. All decisions should be made by mutual agreement.

Divided Custody

This rare award of custody separates the minor children with one child residing with one parent while other children reside with the other parent. The court is usually very reluctant to separate siblings, especially young children. Usually no support is ordered or, alternatively, each parent pays for the child not in his or her care based upon that parent’s net income. The difference is paid to the parent with the lower income.

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