Who Will Be Awarded Custody?
Divorce can be divisive, and it's easy to see why when you consider all the emotional and financial issues that must be decided. Custody is one of those emotional issues where the fight can get ugly and where a family court judge may need to determine custody. What these judges use to make their decision varies depending on other aspects of the divorce. If you assume that both parents have been judged to be fit to parent a minor child, then the judge may look at some of the following issues to help tip the scales.
Setting a good example
Parents who engage in certain activities don't stand a chance when it comes to custody. Drug and alcohol abuse, mental disorders and criminal behavior are all good examples of a no-brainer when it comes to making custody decisions. That being said, there are other, more subtle signs of behavior that could cause the judge to place a child with the other parent.
You may both love the child and portend to be good parents, but the way you behave in the courtroom might give the judge ammunition to deny you custody. The courts like to see parents that are able to control their animosity towards the other parent no matter how hurt you might be that your marriage is ending. Your child will fare better if you can avoid being disrespectful and spiteful when it comes to dealing with other divorce issues like property and debt. Your willingness to acknowledge that the other parent deserves to spend time with the child will give you brownie points in this area too.
What the child wants
As long as you haven't prepped or coached the child, the judge may want to find out how your child feels about the divorce and who they would rather spend more time with. You should know that only children who are of a certain age and level of maturity will become directly involved in a custody issue and these meetings or evaluations will not be taking place in court. To make a better decision judges are increasingly relying on professional child custody evaluation experts who spend time with the child in relaxed settings.
Custody of the home
Divorce can be unsettling to all concerned, but children can be particularly hard-hit. With an eye towards reducing the impact of a divorce on the children, some family court judges try to lessen this impact by ordering that the child remains with the parent who is awarded the family home. It may not seem fair, but the family court system is not set up to be fair to parents. They are there for the benefit of the child, instead.
Speak to your divorce law firms to learn more about contested child custody.