- The wishes of the child’s parent or parents regarding the child’s custody
- The reasonable preference of the child if the court deems the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding, and experience to express a preference
- The interaction and interrelationship of the child with the child’s parent or parents, the child’s siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interest
- The child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school and community
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved
- The stability of the child’s home environment
- The moral fitness of the child’s parents
- The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate a close and continuous parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent
In a contested custody trial the court will examine all factors in deciding who will get custody. In most divorces in Rhode Island, the parties agree to share “joint legal custody” which provides for mutual responsibility in major decisions regarding the children’s welfare including education, medical care, and emotional, moral , and religious development. Most parties also agree that one parent will have physical placement. If the parties can not agree, the court will normally order that one parent will have physical placement. Some parents agreed to share physical placement. These parenting arrangements are sometimes more fair to the parents (in theory) than they are fair (in practice) to the children. Each situation is individual and the best result is based upon the needs and abilities of the children, the practical aspects of the individual case such as available time to parent and what is ultimately in the “best interest” of the child.
Visitation is often decided by the parties and is based predominantly upon what is reasonable for the child, convenient for each party based upon their work schedules and what will be considered acceptable by the court. In the event that the parties can not come to an agreement on this matter, the court will decide on a visitation schedule and order specific visitation. Some divorcing parties mediate custody, placement and visitation with experienced mediators who assist divorcing parents to set up a parenting plan and a parenting schedule.