Custody rights: Consider your options before turning to the court

The best interests of your child always come first in custody cases. Regardless of what you or your ex-spouse want, a court will always make a decision that benefits your child first and foremost. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have your own parenting plan, you may not need to rely on a judge to determine what happens to your child, which can work out better for everyone involved in the case.

If parents can come to an agreement on what they plan to do with custody after their divorce, then the court and judge may approve that agreement. In some cases, the judge may decide the arrangements aren't in the best interests of the child and change the arrangement to suit what he or she thinks is right.

The court also looks at a number of factors involved in the custody case including the child's preference if he or she is old enough to speak freely to the court. The health of the parents and the child, the distance between the parents' homes and each party's ability to provide for the child will come into consideration. Overall, the court wants to know that the parents are able to support, love and appropriately care for the child when he or she is in the parent's care.

When the parenting plan and custody arrangements are finalized, they're permanently barring any major changes in your life. Do your best to address your concerns and to fight for a custody arrangement that you can agree with. Your attorney can help you stand up for your parental rights and the rights of your child. Our site has more on what to consider when creating a custody agreement.

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