Various factors are considered by courts in determining divorce-related issues, which include child custody, child support, visitation rights, spousal support or alimony, and division of property and assets. Many of these factors differ from one state to another except for one (when the issue concerns a child): that every decision should be made in the best interest of the child.
While what may be considered to be within the scope of “in the best interest of the child” can be contested, the following are deemed as necessary for inclusion:
- the child’s gender and age
- the amount of involvement each parent has in activities participated in by the child
- the parents’ level of relationship with the child
- the health risks and safety of the environment where each parent lives (this means one parent’s wish to win custodianship can be affected if his or her home is located in an environment that can have negative effects to the child’s health and safety)
- the lifestyle, stability, and health of each parent as these can affect a child’s academic performance
Before the close of the nineteenth century child custody was a right enjoyed by fathers. This was due to the Property Law and inheritance issues that were in effect and observed that time. The perception of the courts regarding who was more capable of providing children’s needs, however, changed during the start of the twentieth century, resulting to the transfer of custodial right to mothers who were naturally better caretakers of young children. This belief served as the basis for “The Tender Years Doctrine” which was observed up to the 1970s.
Today, however, neither father nor mother has the sole right to custodianship. So long as the court finds both parents fit to care for their child, then the child will not be denied the love and care of both parents. This explains the joint legal and physical custody that courts now award to both parents. As posted in the website of The Maynard Law Firm, PLLC, in a joint legal and physical custody, also called joint managing conservatorship, both parents are given equal time with their child, as well as equal rights in making decisions for their child’s well-being. Under this joint custody ruling, the child may reside with one parent at a location that is easily accessible to the other parent, or the child may move from one parent’s residence to another.
Many spouses have already been granted joint custody or joint managing conservatorship due to the help of skilled child custody attorneys. Joint custody, however, can have a much greater chance of working well only if the divorced parents have no feeling of animosity against each other.