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In Any Marriage Or Family Breakdown Situation, Or The Death Of A Surviving Or Sole Effective Parent, How Is It Determined Who Is Entitled To Custody Of Children?

The main concern of the courts and authorities operating under the law is what is in the best interests of the children. Factors looked to reach that determination may be:

  • the safety of the child;
  • the age of a child;
  • who has been the nurturing parent to the time of consideration;
  • what are the educational, guidance and other needs of the child and who is best able to provide these;
  • the moral environment of the child;
  • who can provide support;
  • whether the care of the child be responsibly shared by separating spouses;
  • with respect to an older child, the preferences of the child;
  • if the child has had medical, behavioral or other problems, in what arrangement these can best be dealt with;
  • what support is available from extended family and social services.

Where both parents can agree to share parenting in a mature and responsible manner, a form of joint custody may be agreed on in writing or worked out in the course of court assessments and conferences with the parties, usually providing for a child to have it's principal residence with one parent, significant custody and sharing of upbringing responsibilities to the other parent, depending on the respective circumstances, and the financial and other contributions each parent will provide for the child's benefit.