Some factors influence child custody, which a court will look at when deciding on a custody arrangement. Being aware of some of these things gives you an advantage when you are in a court case fighting for either shared or full custody. Here are some of those factors you need to know about.
The Parents’ Wishes
Often, a court will consider the wishes of the parents. Of course, in a situation where parents cannot agree on the custody terms or both parents are demanding full custody, the court has to decide what is best for the child. However, if both parties come to an agreement, including child support, the court will uphold what both parents have decided. In other cases, if the court finds the arrangement inappropriate, they might not uphold it. Parents should consider hiring a family law attorney who will not only represent them but can help them draft an agreement that is in the best interest of the child.
The Children’s Wishes
What the parents want and the recommendation that a social worker makes is more important than the child’s wishes, but the court might also take that into consideration. Sometimes, kids do not make the best decision when choosing what is best for them, especially when the divorce has been stressful for them. They might pick the parent who spoils them the most or who is less strict. However, depending on the child’s age, the court might also choose whether to weigh in their wishes or not.
The Relationship Between Kids and Parents
The court will also factor into the relationship the children have with each parent. If one parent has been absent for a significant part of the child’s life, most likely, the child has developed a stronger relationship with this other parent. Therefore, the court is likely to award the absent parent visitation instead of custody. They will also be required to pay child support and fulfill other obligations.
The Mental and Physical Health of Both the Parent and Children
The court will check whether the parents are physically fit to care for the child. If a parent is physically disabled, making it harder for them to look after the kids, the court will consider this. Even though, most of the time, a disabled parent is still able to take care of the kids like the non-disabled parent, this is something the court will look at when deciding on full custody. The same applies to a parent with a mental health disorder. If one parent is mentally disabled, the court is likely to award the other parent custody.
The Parents Willingness to Work Together
Each parent has to be interviewed by the court to determine if they are willing to work together. The court would not like to deprive the kids of either parent. However, if they feel that one parent is unwilling to work with the other, or they are edging towards restricting the time the kids spend with the other parent, it might be a determining factor. Each parent needs to realize that they share the right to spend time with the child, and they should therefore come up with a solid agreement.
The Parent That Has Been the Primary Caregiver
The court has to consider which parent has been taking care of the child all along. This does not mean taking care of the child financially, as that is covered in child support. By taking care, the court implies feeding, teaching, and general parenting. In a battle of the child’s best interest vs. the rights of a parent, the court has to consider what will benefit the child the most.
Most lawyers advise parents to come up with an agreement that benefits all parties. However, in severe cases where one parent might feel the other poses a danger to the child, they should go to court and let them decide.