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Does the higher income spouse always get custody of the kids?

It is a common belief that parents with a higher income have the advantage in custody proceedings. This belief, however, is not entirely accurate. While finances are one piece of a custody proceeding, they are not the decision-maker.

So, how is custody decided? What factors besides income are considered?

The goal of child custody rulings

If you are going through a divorce, of course you are concerned about how often you will see your children. The judge's primary concern, though, is what's best for the child. All custody decisions are based on the child's needs and well-being.

In some cases, joint custody is the best choice for the child. In others, the judge may decide one parent should have sole custody and the other should have visitation hours or, in extreme cases, no visitation at all. It is important to keep in mind that the child is the judge's primary concern.

Factors that affect the child's best interests

While "the child's best interests" may sound vague, there is a long list of factors that judges examine in every divorce case to sort out how custody should be allotted. Judges will first look at parents' behaviors and the time and work devoted to caring for the children.

From there, other factors are examined, which can include such things as:

  • Child's relationship with each parent
  • Health of all parties involved
  • Each parents' location of residence
  • Each parents' financial state
  • History of substance abuse
  • History of domestic violence

Though a parent's financial state might benefit the child's interests, custody is not such a black-and-white issue that this would dominate the decision. If you have concerns or questions about your rights to your child, you can ask a family law attorney about your situation and what you can expect as you move forward.

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