Divorce can be hard on children, and they may want the last word on where they land in the custody agreement. Even though your children may know exactly where they want to go, it isn’t likely up to them.

If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement, then it falls to the court to decide. Your children can’t cast the ultimate vote, but a judge can take their wishes into consideration. Those wishes will be one of a number of factors that will determine parenting responsibilities going forward.

Quality time

Your ongoing relationship with your child will likely prove important. The courts will take into consideration certain intangibles like the love and affection that they need for a healthy upbringing. On the adverse side, they will want to avoid an appointment that puts the child in danger of being a victim of abuse, or at the very least left wanting.

Family ties

Since this deal isn’t likely to be one-sided, you’ll also have to show that you’re capable of sharing. A willingness to work together with your spouse to find the best solution for your children can go a long way. And it’s not just limited to your interactions with your spouse after the marriage ends.

A judge can also weigh how close your children will stay to support systems. Legislation encourages ongoing involvement from both parents, but community interaction can also play a big part. You might be able to expect children to adapt to a new school after a divorce, but taking them far from their other parents, extended family members or strong community influences may not go over so smoothly.

No two child custody cases are exactly the same, especially when so many factors matter. But the common thread between them is that a judge is looking to find the best interest of the child, and knowing the guidelines can help you fit the bill.