Factors the judge considers before granting the custody of a child to a parent.

Stanley Alieke

Factors the judge considers before granting the custody of a child to a parent.


Stanley Alieke. Esq

During separation and divorce, the most heated argument between the couple is always who takes custody of the child(ren), if the marriage has been blessed with child(ren), after it comes the argument of sharing and splitting of properties; who takes what property.

The court takes custody of the child(ren) seriously and treat it with utmost care and priority because this is what determines the future of the child.

If the judge grants the physical custody of a child to a parent it means that the parent has the right to have a child live with him or her for the amount of time determined by the judge. The judge in some instances can grant primary custody of a child to a parent. In this case, the child lives with the parent and the parent makes the decision on the upbringing of the child in exclusion of the other parent. In some other instances, the court may also grant joint custody of the child to both parents.  In this arrangement, the child spends significant amount of time with both parents at different time and schedules and both parent contribute in the upbringing of the child physically, emotionally and financially.

Therefore, Joint custody maybe be joint legal custody ie the both parents have joint legal custody of the child. Legal custody of a child simply means having the legal rights to make decisions about a child’s wellbeing and upbringing. Joint custody may also be joint physical custody ie the child spends some amount of time with each parent at different schedules and time. Finally, Joint custody may also be joint physical and legal custody.

It should however be noted that a parent might have a legal custody of a child and may not have the physical custody and vice versa while a parent can have both the legal custody and the physical custody of a child and both parent although divorced or separated can have both joint legal and physical custody of the child.

There are  some factors the court consider while granting custody of a child; wether sole custody ie custody to a parent or joint custody ie custody to both parents.

The critical factor that the judge first put into consideration before granting the custody of a child to any of the parents is what is referred in law as “The Best Interest Standard”.  The court uses this best interest standard to determine what would be best for the child(ren). The child’s best interest comes first before that of the parents. What is best for the child prioritized.

Although, it is inarguable that both parents definitely have good and genuine intention towards the child in question and definitely want what’s good for the child but the judge applies the best interest standard where what the court feels will be the best for the child comes first and outweighs the interest of the parents.

In determining the child’s best interest, the court look into these crucial factors which can be said are the essential factors that the judge considers in granting custody of a child and they include;

  1. The court considers  if there are confirmed evidences of domestic violence, domestic abuse, or neglect or negligence by either parent of the child? The court will definitely not going to grant custody of a child to a parent who is negligent, violent or abusive.
  2. The court weighs each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical needs, emotional wellness, and medical care. The court will not grant physical custody to a parent who is incapable of financially and physically catering for the needs of the child.
  3. The court will also check the psychological effect the custody will have on the child. The court will ask themselves if the child is okay where he or she is currently is or will the child don’t mind a change in physical environment and custody?
  4. The court will also consider the wishes of the child. The court will ask the child where he or she would like to stay or which of the parent would the child like to be with at the moment. This will only the done if the child is considered old enough to make his or her own decisions.
  5. The court also considers the living conditions and accommodations of each parents’ home. The court is interested to know if the child will have his or her own room in a parent’s house and have a spacious and conducive environment to him or herself.
  6. The court will also evaluate the mental and physical health of each parent and ascertain which of the parent is more mentally and physically fit to be granted the custody of the child. The court is definitely not going to grant custody of a child to a mentally unstable parent or physically unfit parent.
  7. The court will also consider the quality of the relationship the child enjoys with each parents. The court puts into consideration Which of the parent does the child have more cordial and loving relationship with. The court is more akin to grant custody of a child to a parent a child has a blossoming relationship with.

While these are some of the factors the court considers before granting custody of a child to a parent, there maybe other extenuating factors the court will also look into in granting custody of a child to a parent depending on the peculiarity of each case.

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This publication is not a piece of legal advice. The opinion expressed in this publication is that of the author(s) and not necessarily the opinion of Sabi Law Foundation, its staff and partners.
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