Most child custody cases put family law judges under wide discretion. Their thoughts and opinions are widely considered since they handle the evidence and choose how much weight to put on each. Some of the factors could be outlined under state law, while others are covered in the blanket of “any other factor affecting the interest of the child.” If you are fighting for the custody of a child, a custody attorney will take you through these factors, as discussed below.
The Living Situation of the Parents
There is always a tug of war surrounding where the different parents or guardians live and how their location will affect the child’s life. Most of the time, the parent who remains in the family home gets custody, as this guarantees continuity and stability in the children’s daily lives. In other cases, the parent who wins the custody gets to keep the family home for the same reason. That means, if you are hosted at your friend’s place before you gain a footing after divorce, you will not get custody of your children. If you want to spend time with your children as a present parent, your living conditions must reflect that.
The Parents Willingness to Support a Relationship with the Children
The judges will consider whether you had a working co-parenting schedule and how well it worked for both of you. Judges will probe to find out whether you bad-mouth your partner in front of the children or you get in the way for visitation. The more cooperative parent will have the upper hand in the custody case. However, if you constantly try to alienate the children from the other parent, the courts will reward your interference with custody denial unless there is a valid reason for your actions.
Relationship with Children before Divorce
It happens that parents who have not been involved with the children suddenly get a strong urge to spend time with them after the marriage ends. Some cases are sincere, and the judges will respect them, especially if the parent has put the best foot forward during the separation period. However, the judge will take their time to establish that the sudden change of heart is not just for show, for the parent to win the custody case.
Continuity and Stability
In most custody cases, the judges will go big on the status quo. They know that adding more changes to an already traumatized child due to the divorce is a bad idea. Therefore, if you argue that things are working out as there are, you have a leg up against the spouse advocating for a major shift. Come up with a custody and visitation schedule as practical as possible and fair to both parents.
Drug Abuse and Neglect
The courts will scrutinize to establish a history of alcohol or substance abuse in both parents. Any parent that has a history of both will have minimal chances of securing custody. Additionally, suppose there is any evidence that a parent has been abusive or neglected their children. In that case, they will not get custody, and the judge will be sure to limit their contact with the children.
Whether your sexual orientation will affect your child custody case depends on the state you live in and the judge you will find. If you are in a same-sex marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, District of Colombia, New York, Nevada, among other states, your sexual orientation will not affect your custody case.
In other states, the courts consider sexual orientation and state that a parent shall not have their same-sex partner when the children are visiting. In extreme cases, parents have been denied all forms of contact with their children due to their sexual orientation. The same case for transgender parents, as most judges do not understand how the lifestyle will impact the children.
When you cannot agree with your partner on what is best for the child, the court will do so for you. While a judge may want to award joint custody, the child’s best interest will determine whether you get it or the decision will be made in favor of one parent. The judges sometimes interview the children to see which parent they prefer before making the decision. Therefore, if you want the case to be in your favor, play your part by putting the child first in all of your life considerations.