How does a court decide which parent will get custody of a child?

When the parents cannot agree on allocation of parental rights and responsibilities, the court will make the decision for them. When determining the child's best interests, the court may consider may factors, including

  • The child's age
  • The child's gender
  • The child's physical and mental health
  • The parents' physical and mental health
  • The parents' lifestyles
  • Any history of abuse
  • The emotional bonds between the parent and the child
  • The parent's ability to give the child guidance
  • The parent's ability to provide the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care
  • The child's routines, including home, school, community and religious
  • The willingness of the parent to encourage a healthy, on-going relationship between the child and the other parent
  • If the child is above a certain age, the child's preference
  • Who has been the child's primary caretaker?