How do courts make child custody decisions?
If you’re going through a particularly difficult divorce then you might find it hard to agree on who should get custody of your children. Although it’s always in your best interest to come to a mutual agreement with your ex, this simply isn’t possible in some cases.
If this happens, then you will need to go to court to work out who will get custody of your kids post separation. This is a worst case scenario, and if it comes to this you should always employ a family lawyer to help make sure that you get the best outcome possible.
With this in mind, we’ve covered a few of the things that judges will look at when they’re making child custody decisions.
When will child custody cases go to court?
Usually we advise ex partners to try and discuss things in a friendly manner before attempting to take them to court. If this isn’t possible and one or both parents aren’t happy with the current arrangements, then they can apply to have their child custody case heard in front of a judge.
Before this can happen you and your lawyer will need to gather an array of information and documents to help prove your case, otherwise you might not achieve the outcome that you want.
What will the court consider in child custody cases?
There are numerous different things that the courts will take into account when they are deliberating over child custody cases. They include:
Any safety concerns for the children – If one of the parents has a history of being violent, abusive, or acting in an otherwise threatening nature towards or around their children then they will have a very hard time being awarded custody.
Any evidence suggesting that one parent is acting in the child’s interest – If one of the parents is clearly acting in their children’s best interest and the others aren’t, then the courts will make their decision based on that.
Geographical constraints – It’s logical, but a lot of people forget that the courts have to consider where the parents live when they’re making their decision. They’re not going to award joint custody if the two parents live on opposite sides of the country.
The child’s opinion – Although the courts won’t make custody decisions based on the child’s opinion itself, they may take it into account. For example, if a child really doesn’t want to live with one parent the court probably won’t force them to.
The ability of each parent to provide for the children’s needs – If one parent has physical or mental health problems which might impact their ability to care for their children then they may not be awarded custody. For example, if one parent suffers from chronic alcoholism this will count against them.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things that the courts will think about when making child custody decisions, and you should always speak with a family lawyer to make sure that you’re getting accurate information and professional advice.