A common question posed during a divorce trial is, how does the court decide which parent receives custody of the child? The answer to this is that the court needs to determine what is in the best interest of the child.
The court takes into account a wide variety of factors to determine the best choice for the child, including the child’s mental and physical health, the parent’s mental and physical health, and the child’s age and gender.
The court also looks at the emotional bond between the parents and the child, and the parent and child’s lifestyle to make sure the child maintains a healthy and stable life pattern.
The child’s life pattern is dependent on the parent’s ability to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education, as well as a stable home environment and community activities.
A judge will also consider the impact on the child of the life change, and the child’s preference is the child is old enough (usually about twelve years old.) If none of these factors shows one of the parent as immediately favorable, the court will focus primarily on which parent will provide the most stable home life.
For younger children, the best choice may be whichever parent was their primary caregiver, while the main concern for older children is which parent will provide stable schooling, peer relationships, and home life.
The court will also focus on the child’s safety:
- If there is any history of domestic abuse, the court will take that into consideration.
- The relationship between parents and the child will be closely examined to make sure the relationship is healthy and nurtured.
- The relationship between the parents with also be examined, for signs of abuse between parents and to make sure the custodial parent allows visitation to the child free of harassment.
If one the parents moves out and leaves the child, the court might take that into consideration. Moving out sends a message to the court and the parent that the child remains with might be favored when choosing custody.
In addition, if the child continues living with a parent in the home where the family lives, the court might be reluctant to move the child from the home and disrupt the child’s regular routines.
If a parent needs to leave the familial home, especially if it is due to a dangerous or abusive living situation, the parent should take the child with them and file for temporary custody. Contact a child custody lawyer to better represent you and your reasons why you are filing for emergency temporary custody.
Sometimes, a mediator, or neutral third party, should be considered to help resolve disagreements. A mediator cannot influence or impose their own solution, but they can assist in helping both parties reach an agreement of their own.
When mediation is not enough ensure the safety of the child and yourself get the help from an experienced and knowledgeable child custody attorney and get the results that are in the best interest of the child.