Q: How is custody decided?
A: When the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the Court will make the decision for them. In reaching its decision, the Court will look at the best interest of the child, by considering the following factors:
1. Who has been the primary caretaker
2. The intimacy of the relationship between parent and child
3. The interaction of child with parent and any other person
4. The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
5. The length of time the child lived in a stable environment
6. The permanence as a family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home
7. The mental and physical health of individuals involved
8. Capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child’s culture/religion
9. The child’s cultural background
10. If the child is above a certain age, the child’s preference
Q: Can custody be modified?
A: The court can change custody if the situation of the child or a parent changes and a new order is needed for the best interests of the child. The court will only look at facts that have changed since the old order or facts that were unknown at the time of the old order. The court can only change custody when:
- Both parties agree to the change; or
- The parent with custody has let the child become integrated into (fully part of) the home of the other parent; or
- The child’s present home endangers his/her physical or emotional health, or growth.
To change a custody order, the parent must bring a motion in court.