Thank you for your question. While the court prefers continuous and ongoing relationships with both parents, they will ultimately decide the issue based on the best interests of the child. The factors the court are to consider is listed below:
(1) the parents' ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child; (2) the parents' willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse; (3) the interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings; (4) the history of domestic violence, if any; (5) the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent; (1) the preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision; (6) the needs of the child; (7) the stability of the home environment offered; the quality and continuity of the child's education; (8) the fitness of the parents; the geographical proximity of the parents' homes; the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation; (9) the parents' employment responsibilities; and (10) the age and number of the children.
Often the courts will attempt to preserve the status quo in the interest of stability for the child during this trying time; so for example if one parent is primary caregiver, generally the court will award joint legal custody, and sole physical custody to that parent, with parenting time (visitation) to the other parent.
There is no preference re: gender (before courts used to favor mothers).
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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.