There are a lot of variables involved in the average divorce. Aside from complicated asset division questions, custody is usually the most difficult issue to tackle. Was there a reason for the divorce, such as abuse or chemical dependence? Is one spouse asking for custody and the other one isn’t? Which parent can better provide and care for the children? What, in general, is in the best interests of the minor children from the marriage?

It can be hard to predict the outcome of custody proceedings during a divorce. Because there are so many factors and because much of the decision-making is subjective and performed by a judge, you, as one of the divorcing parents, may have very little control over the end result. In general, however, there are certain standards you can expect during the custody hearings and decision-making in your divorce.

The courts worry about the best interest of the children

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to assigned custody and parenting time in a divorce. In general, however, the courts will try to determine what is in the best interests of the children. The courts want to minimize the social and psychological impact of the divorce on growing children to ensure they develop into emotionally healthy and well-rounded adults. The primary guiding factor considered in custody situations should be the healthy development of the children.

As a typical rule, the courts believe that having a positive, strong and ongoing relationship with each parent is in the best interest of the children. The only exceptions to that rule come from situations with physical, emotional or sexual abuse and cases with extreme substance abuse situations. If one parent has dealt with or is dealing with mental health or addiction issues, the courts could terminate parental rights. It’s more likely, however, that the courts will order education and therapy to help the parent understand and fulfill his or her obligations to the children.

Pushing for sole custody could hurt your case

In many cases without the presence of abuse or chemical dependence, fighting for sole custody can hurt your chances of a favorable custody outcome. While divorcing spouses see custody as the ultimate battle, something to be won or a way to punish the other spouse, the courts see it differently. They want parents to put aside disagreements and ego in favor of trying to help children get through the divorce as unaffected as possible.

If you refuse visitation without a good reason or if you continue to push for sole custody, the courts may question whether you are willing to put the needs of your children first. If that happens, you may not be pleased with the outcome of the custody decision. Do your best to support efforts at visitation and co-parenting, and it will help show the courts that you value the well-being of your children above all else.