In the absence of an agreement the court will take the following factors into account:
- Brothers and sisters should not be split-up
- The emotional requirements of the children
- The closeness of other relatives to the children (grandparents etc)
- The ability of one or other of the parents to better look after the children
- Whether either of the parents has an addiction or other psychological condition
But the factor that tends to carry most weight is the dedication of each parent towards the children before the breakdown of the marriage. It is for this reason that the courts almost always award custody to the mother.