Child custody can be one of the biggest decisions that parents will have to make during a divorce, and also the most contentious. If parents aren’t calm and level-headed about the situation, then they might need to head to court. If they aren’t calm and level-headed there, then things could get even worse. Most custody arrangements aren’t decided by the courts because no one wants that. The less than 10 percent that end up there might not benefit either parent or their children.

A “custodial parent” is defined as such because he or she has been given custody by the court system. If the decision is ultimately made in court, then an older child might have a say in where he or she goes. The judge will want to hear all sides, and that means asking about the feelings of the child.

There are probably more custodial parents than you realize. More than 25 percent of children and 48 percent of African American children live in families with a custodial parent. Over half of custodial parents only have a single child. In other words, don’t think you’re alone. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss your situation with friends and family, because it’s common.

Custodial-parent families experience poverty more often than non-custodial-parent families. If you plan to file for divorce, make sure to discuss your financial situation with anyone involved with the decision-making process. If you know you won’t have enough to survive, take the extra time to explore other options before you make a choice you could regret. Ask for help from a qualified divorce attorney for legal advice.

Nearly half of custodial parents receive child support payments from the other parent.

About half of out-of-court arrangements leave the mother with the child. When court factors into the equation, only 17.5 percent of custodial parents are the fathers.

If you’re a father seeking to gain custody of the child, then you should know that courts still seem to favor the mother in situations where sole custody is granted. If you would like to turn the tables to give yourself a better chance, then you need to do two things: show that you can easily support a child on your own, and show that your spouse cannot.