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Factors to Determine Primary Child Custody

Factors to Determine Primary Child Custody

So you are preparing for your child custody court case. You can increase your odds of winning, and make yourself more comfortable if you have some idea what questions will be asked. We have already discussed What Does a Judge Look for in a Child Custody Case?. Now lets list factors to determine primary child custody:

What Factors Does a Court Consider When Determining Child Custody?

  • Consideration of the child’s age, gender, and emotional development
  • The degree of *‘emotional attachment’* the child feels toward each parent
  • The child’s ability to adjust to family arrangements and school environments
  • Sometimes the child’s preferences, if they are of legal age or are deemed capable of rendering sound legal decisions—usually in the 12-16 range in some states

Parental Factors to Determine Primary Child Custody

  • How involved each parent has been in the child’s upbringing
  • The physical, emotional, social, and financial stability of each parent
  • The willingness of each parent to act cooperatively with the other parent
  • The geographic residence of each parent
  • Any history of child abuse or domestic violence

Again, each factor must be analyzed by the court in the light of the child’s best interest. A court will not grant custody to a parent simply because they are financially more capable, the parent must be able to prove why the child would benefit if they are granted primary custody.

What is Primary Custody?

Primary custody (or full custody) refers to an arrangement wherein one parent assumes all or nearly all for the child-rearing responsibilities after a divorce. The definition of primary custody may differ according to jurisdiction.

Thus, if a parent is granted primary custody of a child it usually means that the child lives with them and that they are responsible for making important decisions for the child. The ‘non-custodial parent’ usually makes financial contributions through child support, and may be granted partial or limited visitation rights depending on the circumstances.

The bottom line when seeking custody, you to clearly need to understand the factors judges and case workers consider when determine custody and then be ready to prove or answer those points.

What other factors have you found to determine primary child custody? What other questions were asked in your child custody case?

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Fred Campos, Top Geek, blogs about everything from House of Cards to Subway. In addition to blogging, he is a public speaker and humorist in child custody, social media, web development and parenting. He is married to one @SuperParentMom, and raising three world changers. For more details on his custody course visit, Like this post? Make sure you subscribe to this blog.

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  • Cory Stevenson September 30, 2015, 11:57 am


    great overview on what the courts look for. In Texas don’t they just go by the child’s wishes especially if they are over the age of 12?

    • FullCustodyDad October 1, 2015, 11:37 pm


      Thanks for the question, I am not an attorney so you should ask a Texas attorney for an exact answer. That said, here is what I have observed sitting and watching about 100 cases over the last 17 years for my county here in Texas.

      1) The pendulum has swung from, kids having a lot of say, back to kids having little say in their custodial future.

      2) I have watched the transition of, kids testify their wants, to now kids only meeting judges in chambers (privately).

      3) Judges have gotten smart, realizing kids say whatever the parent, who brings them to court, wants them to say. Thus child testimony is NOT objective.

      4) Judges now take little stock in kids preferences to determining their own destiny.

      Here is my opinion…on the subject.

      I think the change of not involve the kids in open court or not taking kids’ testimony seriously, is a good one. Kids should NOT be put in the middle. What good kids is NOT going to want to live with the other parent when asked? Which kid is going to pick the structured parent, who helps with homework, over the Disneyland mom or dad?

      Children are children. Kids don’t have a right to vote, go to war, or even drive until their reach a certain age or maturity.

      Could a child objectively determine the right parent to be their custodial parent? Maybe. Have I ever seen it, sadly no.

      I’m with the judges on this one, kids should NOT have the right to determine custody AND if your filing is based on the preference of your child, you need to give up now.

      You may in fact be the better parent, but your burden of proof needs to not involve the testimony or preference of the child.

      My thoughts.

  • Quintina Randle November 7, 2016, 8:10 am

    My daughters father has been out of the picture of 5 years. He severly burned my son and cut off my daughters hair before the winter. For five years he has left me alone but recently he has been seen cruising around my neighborhood. I saw him myself infront of my house. I want nothing to do with him I have told him many times. his other son he has a court order for and he cant contact him untill that boy is 18 years old. do you think a judge would give him visitation or custody of my daughter?

    • FullCustodyDad November 7, 2016, 11:05 am


      while I don’t know the details of your case, nor the age of your daughter, so my answer is basically an opinion based on observations here in North Texas. The short answer, is you probably don’t have much to worry about losing custody. In regards to visitation. Well I have seen dads come out of prison and show judges that they have really cleaned up their act. Starting with limited supervised visitation and grow into standard visitation over a few years.

      A lot depends on what his status is on the final divorce decrees. If necessary, I am sure you could present to court why he needs supervised or limited access.

      I realize this is a hard concept to consider. But as it has been explained to me even in my case… A judge made me understand, while we consider your Ex a serious threat to you and your wife, we do not believe she is a serious threat to your daughter. A child has a right to have a relationship with both parents. So I have been there. Do understand that he is still her father.

      Hope this helps,