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Factors that impact whether you'll retain custody of your child

In determining which parent should be awarded custody, a judge's decision will center around what's in the best interest of the child. In doing so, he or she will look at a number of aspects of the parents' lives and their relationship with their child in hopes of making a decision that will best allow the child to live a happy and productive life.

When it comes to making parental assessments, the judge will focus on determining which parent has the financial means to adequately provide for the child's basic essentials such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Because research has shown that children thrive in more stable environments, judges tend to spend significant time in attempting to understand which parent is both physically and mentally stable as well.

Parents who possess adverse behavioral traits such as drinking, smoking or drug use will struggle in attempting to procure custody of their child. In contrast, a parent that is intimately involved in their child's schooling, extracurricular activities or otherwise been shown to share a close bond with the child may stand out as the ideal custodian of the child.

Judges tend to award primary custody of the child to the parent that appears to be most likely to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent. In contrast, judges tend to look unfavorably upon parents who have waged unfounded abuse claims against the other parent. They are often unwilling to award custody to a parent who has been convicted of a crime involving abuse as well.

In making decisions regarding custody, judges will also consider the age, gender and overall health of the child in determining which parent is most fit to meet his or her needs. In the event the child is 12 years old or older, there is a strong chance that they will be given an opportunity to voice their own desires as it relates to who they wish to reside with on a regular basis.

Parents that collaborate in drafting a parenting plan have a much higher chance of a judge entering a custody order that is more aligned with both of the parent's wishes. A New York City family law attorney can help you in your efforts to broker a parenting plan with your ex.

Source: FindLaw, "Getting Custody FAQ," accessed June 09, 2017

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