Understanding How Custody Is Determined

By September 12, 2020Child Custody

When people get divorced there are often arguments about which party should have which property.  But a child isn’t property. The only way to divide a child is to divide the time they spend with each party. This can be complicated.

Perhaps you and your ex are both great parents. But a decision still needs to be reached, and there are certain considerations most judges look at when making this decision.

IF ANY ABUSE—PHYSICAL, MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, or SEXUAL—is present, this needs to be reported immediately.

A judge will want to know several things, but here we have compiled some pointers that can help or hurt your case when deciding custody. It mostly comes down to the parent’s ability to meet a child’s needs, not simply physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. Additionally, a parent must demonstrate the ability and willingness to care for any medical and special needs of the child, which must also be taken into consideration. If either parent or the child has special physical and/or mental needs, and those needs prevent that parent from properly attending to and providing for a child, it may be unreasonable to award joint custody.

  1. Sometimes a parent relocates. The distance makes regular visits impractical.
  2. In some cases, children are used as pawns by parents in court. Involving a child for any reason is to be discouraged. If no other reasonable method exists, a child can give testimony depending on the age of the child. This is done on camera or via a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) appointed by the court.  While this information from the children will given weight, it will not be the deciding factor. The purpose of the GAL is to represent the children. They do not represent either parent. This way a GAL can be an objective and effective source of information when determining custody.  Children who are age 14 may give testimony under certain conditions, as well.

3. The court will also consider which parent has been the primary caregiver. It’s important to establish who has made appointments for the children and who provided daily care such as meal preparation, transportation, help with homework, etc.

A parent who can provide a loving, stable home; can provide for a child’s needs; and is willing and able to care for the child’s physical, emotional, and mental health is more likely to be awarded custody.

However, if each parent is able to provide these things and there are no issues such as distance and interruption with school, ideally both parents should share custody. If both parents are mentally fit, it’s in the best interest of the child to have access to both Mom and Dad, as long as both parents are willing to work together to coparent.

If you are considering divorce and have children, a competent family law attorney can help you as you navigate through the process of creating your new lives. At CoilLaw LLC, Jill Coil is dedicated to families, whether it’s bringing them together or organizing new lives for her clients. If you need assistance, we are here for you. Even during the pandemic, Jill will conduct a video conference with you and help you as you decide how to get the best outcome. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.