How is child custody decided?

You may have heard of the "best interests of the child(ren)." This is the standard in all states in determining the custody of the child(ren). Each state has laws or "statutes" that govern child custody and each state lists several factors that the court will consider in deciding which custody arrangement will serve in "the best interests of the child(ren)". That said, these several factors often provide only minimal guidance for the judge. The "best interests of the child(ren)" standard gives a good deal of power to the judge and is typically the most influential factor for the judge in making a custody decisions.

Please keep in mind, that when the judge is forced to rule on your custody dispute, you are bringing in the element of surprise. There is never a guarantee (not even if your lawyer tells you) how the judge may rule on any specific custody case.