The Top Factors That Determine Child Custody
Cases involving child custody are rarely pretty. Two parents resort to the courtroom to resolve custody disputes when they are unable to reach a consensus through normal mediation channels. Child custody cases are also difficult to predict, especially when both parties have strong arguments. There are some pretty standard factors that a court looks at when determining the nature of child custody arrangements and child support. When you are seeking full custody or shared custody, knowing what these factors are can be helpful. A court’s decision is based on factors that are considered to be in the “child’s best interest.” If you or a loved one are involved in a child custody battle, you should familiarize yourself with the best interests. These are the nine things a court will consider when determining custody arrangements
1. The Parents’ Wishes Regarding Their Children
It is true that in a court of law, the wishes of each parent are taken into account. When that becomes a problem, both parents want full custody or cannot agree on terms as to how that should be done. As a result, it is up to the court to decide what is best for the children based on the other factors it considers when making its decision. It is generally the case that if both parents can come to an amicable agreement, including child support, beforehand, the court will uphold that agreement, even if other factors make the court think that the arrangements are not appropriate.
2. The Child’s Wishes
While the court does not place as much weight on what the child wants as what each parent wants, or what the recommendations of a social worker or other professional are, it does consider the child’s wishes. Kids are not always the best judges of what’s best for them, so if a child wants to remain with one parent because that parent is lenient or spoils them, the court might not make the recommendation the child wants. Before deciding how heavily to weigh the wishes of the children, the court will also take into account the age of the children.
3. The Relationship Between Children & Each Parent
The court takes into account the significant relationship between parents and their children. Suppose one parent has been absent most of the time, and the child has formed a much stronger relationship with the other parent. In that case, it is likely that the absentee parent will be awarded visitation rather than custody and will be responsible for child support and other obligations. To make the best custody decision for the child, the court will often use a social worker to determine whether the relationship between parent and child is strong.
4. Children’s & Parents’ Mental & Physical Health
If one parent is physically disabled and will have difficulty caring for the children, the court will consider this. Although disabled parents are usually as capable as non-disabled parents when it comes to caring for their children, the court must consider when deciding who will have full-time custody, which will have partial custody, or who will pay child support. The same is true for people with mental disabilities, and even more so. A court may decide to award custody to the other parent if one parent is mentally disabled or suffers from an emotional condition.
5. Parents’ Willingness To Work Together
To determine how willing each parent is to work with the other parent, each will be interviewed. Children should not be deprived of either parent and if awarding custody to one parent will severely restrict the amount of time the child gets to spend with the other parent, this will be a deciding factor. The best way to avoid this problem is to make sure that both parents realize the other parent has a right to see their children and attempt to reach an amicable settlement ahead of time.
6. Who Has Been The Majority Caregiver Up Until This Point
The court will consider which parent has provided the most for the child. Financial support is often provided through child support, so it doesn’t just mean providing financial support. In general, the court will consider all types of care, such as transportation, teaching, feeding, and, in general, parenting. Additionally, the court will take into account factors such as the household structure, i.e. if one parent works and is unable to spend as much time with the children as a parent who does not work or works part-time.
7. Accommodations Of The Parent & Ability To Provide For The Child
In determining custody and child support, the court will always consider the parents’ ability to provide for the child. In the first place, the court will consider the parents’ living arrangements, whether they have room for the children, if their home is in a safe neighborhood, and whether it is clean and well-maintained. In addition, the courts will consider the location of the parents, how close they are to family members, schools, and places where the children have established a routine.
8. The Amount Of Adjustment Required
Although divorce will cause some adjustments, the court wants to minimize the impact on the child as much as possible. Due to this, the court will consider how much the child will have to adjust if they live primarily with one parent or the other or have joint custody.
9. Abuse And Neglect Allegations & Instances
When awarding custody, the court will consider actual abuse or neglect and allegations of abuse or neglect. In cases in which one parent has made allegations that have proven to be false, the court will consider this when making a custody decision. If you have any questions about your custody battle, contact our office, and we can assist you.
Other Influencing Factors In A Child Custody Battle
The nine factors listed above are important. Nevertheless, they are not the only factors that can affect legal custody disputes. Different states have different laws, but some factors can prove important:
- Depending on whether the child is an infant or toddler, a school-aged child, or a teenager.
- Ability and willingness of the parent to support the child if custody is lost.
- The living conditions in each parent’s home.
- Each parent’s ability to provide a stable, loving environment.
- Whether the child’s education would be affected if custody were granted.
- Impact of the custody decision on the child’s medical and emotional needs.
- Instances of neglect, abuse, or violence from either or both parents.
- The number of children involved in the custody dispute.
- The distance between both parents’ homes.
- Parental behavior is also important. A history of violent behavior, drug or alcohol abuse, or child neglect can make a father or mother lose custody of a child.
How Can Montgomery & Hart Help?
There is no way to predict how a child custody dispute will be settled. It is not uncommon for the court to award joint custody to both parents. In such cases, it will be up to the divorcing parents to arrange an acceptable parenting schedule based on their obligations at work and housing arrangements. The court prefers this option because it allows the child to grow up in a healthy environment. Having said that, there are situations in which a parent is given sole custody to protect the child’s best interests. If a parent poses a threat to the child, such as being violent or having a substance abuse problem, this is more likely to occur. A consultation with a lawyer can provide you with valuable information about what to expect during your child custody battle. If you are going through a child custody case and need a reliable lawyer on your side, please don’t hesitate to call (980) 243-4470 or contact one of our child custody attorneys today.