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Franklin Divorce Attorney > Blog > Child Custody > What Judges Look at: Child Custody Determinations

What Judges Look at: Child Custody Determinations


Nothing can make a parent feel more powerless than the idea of losing access to their child.

Many parents even choose to stay in bad marriages, simply because they cannot bear the thought of the turmoil that their child may go through in the case of a divorce. Or the thought of losing access to that child via a court-ordered custody arrangement that is beyond their control. While no one can control everything in life, there are some things we can do to empower ourselves. In the case of divorce and child custody, one of the biggest tools at your disposal is arming yourself with knowledge of what to expect next.

When you understand what to expect in your child custody case, you can begin to think about positioning yourself into the most optimal position as you move forward. When it comes to child custody, you should understand that you do hold more power than you might know. And if the decision is put into a judge’s hands, that judge will endeavor to ensure that your child’s best interests are served.

You Can Settle Out of Court

The first thing that a parent should understand is that they do not HAVE to go and have a court make this decision at all. Many couples are able to successfully complete alternate dispute resolution outside of court, through mediation, for example, and agree on a parenting plan between themselves.

If parents cannot agree on the terms or the relationship is too contentious to cooperate outside of a court setting, a judge can analyze your case and set a child custody schedule

What do Judges Consider?

It is important to remember that your case is different from any other divorce or custody case. What happened in another case will not necessarily be what happens in yours. However, what every parent can depend on is a judge’s duty to make child custody decisions based on serving the child’s best interest. But what will a judge consider when making their decision?

Here are a few items that are commonly considered by family court judges, and that you might expect to play a role in your own case:

  • How old is the child: A young child or infant will likely need more one-on-one care than an older child or teen. This might be particularly true if the baby is young enough that breastfeeding is an item of consideration. A judge might award more custody time to a baby or very young child’s main caregiver.In cases with older children approaching puberty, a judge might believe that a child’s best interests are best served by awarding more custody time to the parent who can best help the child understand and navigate those developments.
  • Established Routine: Is the child thriving in their own routine? Set of extracurriculars? Positive friend groups? Has the child spent most of their life living with one parent, the odd vacation or weekend trip with the other parent being the exception?

While a child’s best interests are usually served by having both parents in the child’s life, that does not mean that a parent is entitled to disrupt their child’s life. A parent should seek to have a relationship with their child and enhance that child’s life – not disrupt it needlessly. A judge will consider how to encourage relationship growth without ordering a child to unduly upheave their life. Established routines and relationships will generally play a factor.

  • Parental capacity and safety: Are parents able to meet the child’s emotional and physical needs? Are they capable of recognizing and responding to the child’s needs?

Be prepared with Documented Evidence

If your child is thriving under your care – do yourself and your child the favor of gathering the documentation that proves it. Registration forms for your child’s soccer club, the program for their latest violin recital, the latest report from their school counselor – if your child is happy and thriving, allow the documentation of that support your claims in court.

Contact Fort, Holloway & Rogers

Divorce and custody matters are some of the most complex and difficult issues a person can face. But you don’t have to do it alone. Fort, Holloway & Rogers’ experienced Franklin child custody lawyers can help you understand your legal options and craft a path forward with you. Contact our office today to begin speaking with our team.


What the Child’s Best Interest Standard Means in Court (verywellfamily.com)


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