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What factors may a court consider when deciding on child custody?

When parents in Rhode Island are divorcing, one of their primary concerns is usually their child. Not only may they be concerned about their child's well-being during the divorce process, but they may also be concerned about child custody issues and how much time they will have with their child post-divorce.

In Rhode Island, parents can decide on their own to create a joint custody schedule. However, if the matter is left up to the court, this may not be the case. It may be more probable for one party to have sole physical custody and the other parent to have visitation rights. There are a number of factors a Rhode Island court will consider when making child custody decisions.

One factor is the parents' wishes. If the child is of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference as to which parent he or she wants to primarily live with, the court may also take this into account. The relationship the child has with each of his or her parents, siblings and others who may affect the best interests of the child may also be considered, as may the child's ability to adjust to a new home, school and community.

The parents' and child's mental and physical health may be considered, as will each parent's moral fitness. Courts also consider whether each parent can provide the child with a stable home environment. In addition, each parent's ability and willingness to foster a positive and stable relationship between the other parent and the child may be a factor.

In the end, it is important that any child custody and visitation schedule serves the best interests of the child. Each parent may need to come to the understanding that, despite any animosity they may harbor toward the other parent, they still must work together to raise their child. Parents in Rhode Island who have questions about how child custody decisions are made may want to consult with a family law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Rhode Island Child Custody Laws," accessed Oct. 17, 2016

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