In most states, family courts determine child custody arrangements based on what is in the best interests of the child. So how is that decided? The courts look at a number of factors in making this determination, such as the parents' desire and ability to care for the child, the emotional bond between the child and both parents, the adjustment needed if the child has to move to a new area, and, if old enough, the child's wishes. Frequently, parents or other adults who have raised a child will be required by the court to take part in mediation. In mediation, you can discuss what you want, any problems you've had exchanging the child from one home to the next, and anything else that's relevant to the situation. Hopefully, you can come to a resolution everyone can live with. Otherwise, the judge may make a parenting plan that neither parent is happy with. However, it's important to note that if there was domestic violence in your relationship with the other parent, you may be able to skip mediation.