Divorce is a complicated and stressful process for all involved, but none more so than the children. They struggle with the knowledge that their parents will no longer be together, and face the drastic change of having to live with only one. According to the website of Arenson Law Group, PC there are many things that are considered when determining the custody of children in divorce cases and it is important to know about all of the factors that go into the decision.

Joint custody is when both parents share equal or near equal parts in the lives of the children. This arrangement is becoming increasingly common but requires immense cooperation between the parents to maintain. When joint custody is awarded, one parent receives ‘physical’ custody of the child or children. This means that this parent will be with whom the children live and will be their primary provider. ‘Legal’ custody is shared between the parents, which means that they both have say in the happenings and decisions in the lives of the children.

Which parent receives physical custody is determined by a judge who must take into consideration many factors including but not limited to: the mental/physical health of the parents, the continuation of a stable home environment, school and community changes, and the wishes of the children if they are old enough. The primary caretaker of the children, or the one who most often was cared for the children daily, does have some priority but is not always awarded physical custody.

Sole custody is when one parent has complete custody of the children while the other has no rights to visitation or any say in the decisions made in regards to the children. The website of the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. states that this is only awarded when one of the parents is deemed unfit. An unfit parent is one who has a history of drug or alcohol dependency, has been charged with child abuse or neglect, or has a new partner who is deemed unfit.

Custody battles can quickly get confusing and cause conflicts between the parents. The children’s futures are at stake, especially if neither parent is fit to care for them.