There are several aspects to consider when getting divorced. Among the most crucial for parents, is determining a child custody agreement. Although the court prefers joint custody since it allows the child to have a relationship with both of their parents, sometimes this is not possible. In any case, parents must understand what factors the court looks at when they grant custody during the divorce process.
1. The Child’s Preference
Contrary to popular belief, custody hearings normally take a child’s preferences into account if they are at least 14 years old, and have sound reasoning for their choice. By listening to a child’s custody preference, courts can get a better understanding of the emotional ties the child has with either parent. However, they do not have to uphold those preferences if they believe it will be detrimental to the child’s development and stability.
2. Financial Situation
The child should also live in a home with a stable financial situation. Both parents have an obligation to provide the child with enough support for their basic needs. If one parent does not have the resources to take care of their child, visitation time may be an option. Additionally, there must be a balance of financial stability and physical presence. One parent might have an executive position at work that requires long hours, meaning they bring in a large amount of income, but have little time for other activities.
3. The Health of the Parent and the Child
Judges also consider the parents' mental and physical health. Chronic ailments could impact how custody is decided if it affects a parent’s ability to care for a child. On the other hand, if the child has a health condition, and one parent is not well equipped to handle it, the judge may take that into consideration.
4. Extenuating Circumstances
Substance abuse, domestic violence, and other serious circumstances, like a criminal history or child neglect charges, are also a major factor in a child custody hearing. If the evidence shows there is potential for the child to be harmed while in the presence of that parent, a court may grant the other parent sole custody, or allow them to have supervised visitation time.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately, the number one goal of every judge is to ensure that the child’s best interest is being upheld. When a child goes through their parents splitting up, it can severely impact their lives. Therefore, the court is particularly cautious when it comes to child custody rulings. By examining these factors, they can get a better understanding of what agreement will make the transition as smooth as possible for the child.
If you need legal representation to protect you and your child’s best interests, call the Law Office of Tiffany L. Andrews, P.C. today at (916) 794-4576.