Perhaps you are a 30-something woman who is facing divorce. One of your first concerns is about the custody of your 10-year-old daughter.

You gave up a job to become a stay-at-home mom when Emily was a baby. What will happen now? What will the court decide in the matter of child custody?

Different types of custody

There are two forms: legal custody and physical custody. Physical refers to where Emily will live most of the time while legal refers to making important decisions about her welfare and upbringing. Most of the time divorced parents have joint custody. For example, Emily might live with you in the family home she has known all her life, but she would also have a home with her father. In other words, while you might have primary custody since Emily will reside with you most of the time, visitation rights for Dad will be part of the parenting plan you and he will work out.

Back to the workforce

One thing you should keep in mind is that in divorce courts across the country there is renewed emphasis on stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce after a divorce. Even in cases where the husband makes a very good income, women who expect to receive maintenance as well as child support may find that the court encourages them to earn their own way. The judge who hears your divorce case may view the situation differently, especially if you obtain primary custody over your daughter, but it does not hurt to prepare for a different reality.

How the court determines child custody

The primary consideration will be Emily’s best interests. Therefore, the judge will consider her age, state of health and ongoing needs, as well as her family, school and community relationships and how able you and her father are to care for Emily. Going into your divorce, you will have the benefit of legal guidance, which will include helping you manage the concerns you have over child custody matters.