Child custody is a controversial issue following divorce. Some parents can’t agree on things, leaving the decision on the hands of the judge. Family law always takes the best interests of the child into account when deciding who becomes the custodial parent, but the court carefully considers one factor after another before ruling a decision.
Who Decides Custody
Parents initially have the right to decide who gets custody. Unfortunately, family law experts in Townsville and other parts of QLD noted that some couples fail to come up with an arrangement after their separation. This leads to leaving the decision to the court. During a court trial, the judge will still try to settle things amicably by allowing the parents to talk and decide. If the attempt fails, then the trial moves on.
How the Court Decides Custody
The court looks at many factors before ruling a decision. It is not simply about financial capability. Here are some other reasons:
- Primary Caretaker – The bond or relationship between the primary caretaker and the child/children is important for it affects developmental stages and psychological stability. The court gives special merits to the parent who performs care-taking duties as meal-planning, grooming and healthcare arrangements.
- Domestic Violence – Unless there is a valid reason, the judge will not order physical custody to an abusive parent, much more legal custody. It does not matter whether it is only the mother who has been abused in the past. The abused parent has to prepare evidence and witnesses to prove the abuse if there's no protective order. A protective order does not always mean getting sole custody. The law says that the judge cannot give shared custody unless the mother of the child has a valid reason and requests it in writing.
- Biological Mother – For unwed couples, the court usually gives custody to the mother provided she is responsible and a good example to the child.
- Child’s Preference – The court may also consider the child’s preference if they're already of legal age during the time of divorce, but this is not the biggest factor.
If the parents cannot decide about custody, then that is when the court can decide. Unlike in mediation where an arrangement can be made within the day, a court trial may take a year or more because the court looks at many factors at different angles.