Navigating the Custody Maze:

01 February 2024 ,  Crystelle Steyn 51

Understanding Child Custody Determinations in Divorce

Divorce can be a very complex and emotionally charged process, especially when minor children are involved. One of the most sensitive aspects in a divorce is determining child custody. In many divorce cases, the question arises: who gets the children?

The following are just some of the factors that influence decisions around custody:

1. The Best Interests of the Child:

The main principle in child custody determinations, not only in divorce but also in family law, is the best interests of the minor child(ren). Our Courts prioritize the physical, emotional, and psychological well-being of the child(ren) when making these decisions. This means that the focus is on creating an environment that fosters the child's growth, development, and overall happiness. During the divorce process the role of a Family Advocate plays a vital role as they ensure the best interests of the minor children are being met before a divorce can be finalized.

2. Types of Custody Arrangements:

There are different types of custody arrangements. These include sole custody and joint custody. Sole custody or guardianship grants one parent exclusive decision-making authority and has the full rights and responsibilities towards a child, while joint custody involves both parents sharing decision-making and both have full responsibilities and rights towards the child(ren). While parents mostly have joint custody, only one of the parents will be awarded with the primary care which refers to the parent with whom the child(ren) primarily will reside and the other parent to have contact rights.

3. Factors Influencing Custody Decisions:

Several factors influence custody determinations in a divorce. Courts consider the child's age, health, emotional ties with each parent, and any special needs. The ability of each parent to provide a stable and supportive environment is crucial. The parent who has been the primary caregiver may have an advantage in the decision as they have been the main source of emotional support, been involved in the child’s daily routines, and responsible for educational purposes.

As custody decisions can have a huge impact on a child’s well-being, it is essential for parents going through a divorce to seek legal advice, consider mediation, and prioritize the well-being of their children throughout the process. By understanding the factors that influence custody determinations, parents can work towards collaborative solutions that ensure the child's continued emotional and physical well-being.