Each year, thousands of Arizona couples make the difficult decision to terminate their marriage. When these couples have children, one of the first questions that each party asks involves who gets custody of the children after the marriage. There are several factors that determine the answer to that question.
Things have changed
Child custody has always been one of the most common divorce issues. For decades, mothers received primary custody of children as courts believed that children simply needed their mothers more than their fathers. Today, things have changed significantly, and it’s no longer a guarantee that judges will grant custody to the mother.
Red flags that courts look for
Courts consider a number of factors when determining which parent receives primary custody. The age of the children, their relationships with each parent, and the parent’s financial stability all come into play. There are also some red flags that courts look at, and these include:
- Do either of the parents struggle with addiction?
- Have either of the parents abandoned the children?
- Do either of the parents have a history of physical, mental or sexual abuse?
- Are either of the parents homeless, incarcerated, or otherwise unable to provide a stable home?
Parents have some control over custody rulings
Before a judge determines which parent receives primary custody and the visitation schedule for the other parent, they will give the parents an opportunity to create a schedule. When the parents present a written custody agreement to the judge, that schedule typically receives the approval of the court.
While there are cases in which a judge may order a custodial evaluation, they are rare. Instead, when determining who will get custody of the kids following a divorce, courts prefer leaving that up to the parents.