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Factors that affect child custody rulings

When going through a divorce, it is important to be well prepared at all times. Especially in a litigated divorce, it is not always possible to see what may be coming next, which makes it imperative to be as ready as is practical. When it comes to child custody decisions, however, it may be difficult to be ready if one does not know what factors a judge will or will not consider. The following are some useful tips about how custody decisions are made in Alberta.

If two parents are unable to reach an agreement on the custody of their children, the courts will make a ruling on their behalf. Many factors will be considered before a choice is made, all of which will be considered in terms of what's best for the children. A key factor is which parent has been the primary caregiver until the present time. A judge will be hesitant to drastically alter a child's life if it's avoidable.

Other considerations will include each parent's plans for the future, such as moving or other lifestyle alterations. Also important is the ability of a parent to cooperate with the other parent, and whether either parent has ever exhibited inappropriate behaviour, such as abuse or substance issues. Where the child will be housed may also be considered. The potential for support from family and trusted friends might also factor in.

A key issue that will not be considered is gender, and the courts will not favour a mother over a father, or vice versa. Neither is the financial status of either parent a factor; the parent with the most money or the biggest house does not automatically get custody. Despite the possible protests of the other parent, a parent's extra-marital transgressions during the marriage will not be considered either, unless they can be shown to have negatively impacted the children.

Divorce can be a very high-stakes affair for some people. No one wants to come away with an unsatisfactory settlement, especially when child custody is the issue at hand. Using the services of a skilled Alberta lawyer may help to bring about the best possible results.

Source: clg.ab.ca, "Custody and Access", Accessed on Feb. 17, 2017

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