Child custody discussions can be emotional and sensitive. It’s essential to communicate effectively with your co-parent and document all communication. It’s also important not to disparage your former spouse or use your children as bargaining chips in divorce.
Hiring an attorney is essential if your co-parent tries to skew the decision in their favor by bringing up skeletons from your past.
Child custody laws vary from state to state
Child custody is the legal right of parents to care for and control their children. It can refer to the legal decision-making process and who a child lives with most of the time, called physical custody. A court order or a parenting plan usually determines child custody. Judges are influenced by research that shows that children do better when both parents have significant involvement in their lives.
Custody laws vary from state to state. The state where your child has lived for six consecutive months is typically considered their home state, but the court will consider other factors to determine jurisdiction.
Generally, courts want to promote stability in custody arrangements and will only change primary residences if there is a solid reason. If you are concerned about your child’s welfare, a divorce attorney can help you determine the best action. You may be able to file for a modification to the current custody arrangement, but you must show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances.
The best interests of the child are the most crucial factor
If you are fighting for custody, the court will consider many factors. The following is a list of some of the most critical factors:
Stability: Judges favor parents who can provide their children with stability. It can include staying in the same home, keeping a consistent schedule, and providing regular meals. Judges also look for parents dedicated to fostering a healthy relationship with their children.
Depending on the state and your child’s age, judges may talk to your children or request an evaluation from a psychologist. These assessments can help determine whether a parent is fit to be a primary caregiver.
Your behavior in and out of court will also be considered. Being argumentative or expressing hostility to your ex can negatively impact your chances of getting custody. Staying calm and cooperating with your ex during this process is best.
You have a right to be involved in the child’s life
Parents should avoid asking the courts to resolve child custody disputes if possible and instead try to reach an informal agreement about their children’s care. When this isn’t possible, a Judge or court attorney referee may order mediation for the parties involved. Only spouses can apply for custody or visitation of their children unless the court grants leave or special permission to someone else. Sometimes the Judge will appoint a professional, called a “custody evaluator” or “law guardian ad litem,” to assess the family’s situation and interview the children.
Both parents can share joint or physical custody of their children. It allows each parent to spend significant time with the children and gives both parents a voice in decisions regarding their lives. Gender stereotypes are no longer relevant, and fathers can be just as well positioned to ask for physical custody. It can be particularly beneficial if both parents work full-time and have flexible schedules to accommodate child care.
The court will consider your child’s relationship with each parent
Children in this age range are generally independent and seek to develop their identities. In most cases, they will respond well to a custody arrangement that does not require them to readjust their lives significantly following divorce.
Parents can agree to shared legal and physical custody, where the child will live with each parent for some time, or sole physical custody, where the child will live with one parent permanently. If the court decides on sole custody, they will often award that to the parent who has been the primary caregiver during the marriage.
Judges will also consider the quality of a child’s relationship with each parent. For example, suppose a child has formed a strong attachment to one parent, causing distress. In that case, the Judge will order more frequent visitation with the other parent in conjunction with family therapy. They will also consider any allegations of abuse or neglect by one parent, which could impact custody arrangements.