If divorcing parents cannot come to an agreement on the best custody option, the decision will be made by a judge in family courts. While it may be difficult to allow a judge to determine the outcome of your future, rest assured their focus is on the best interests of the child. There are many factors judges consider to reach this conclusion.
Determining Custody— Examples of the Factors Courts Consider in a Best-Interest Analysis
Fitness of the parents. The court examines which parent is better able to meet the child’s needs.
Each parent’s character and reputation. The court will examine each parent’s past history and reputation in the community.
The quality of the relationship between the parent and child. Some parents may not have been as involved in their child’s life as the other parent, but they may be making an effort to change that. Although the efforts are sincere, judges will look at a parent’s relationship with their child before the divorce.
Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with one another to reach shared decisions. With so much at stake and emotions heightened, separated couples may lash out and bad-mouth one another in front of their kids. One spouse may even try to hurt the other one’s chances at custody, but a judge will consider all of this. It’s best to remain cooperative and honest.
Preference of the child. This will be considered if the child is of sufficient age and maturity but a child is not allowed to select the parent they want to live with.
The number of children and age, sex, and health of the children. This can be important if a child has special needs and if a child will become a member of a blended family as a result of the divorce.
The geographic proximity of parental homes. This is especially important in a request for shared custody.
Potential disruption of the child’s social and school life. Many children have many school activities and extracurricular activities, team sports, etc as well as social activities that the parents should accommodate as much as possible.
Domestic violence. If there has been domestic violence in the home, it will be a factor the Court considers in its custody determination.
Some other factors a court may consider are the financial circumstances of the parents, demands of parental employment, and material opportunities affecting the future of the child.
We hope that you find these factors insightful and they have helped you gain a better understanding of how custody is determined. However, it’s important to remember that there is no all-encompassing list because each case is unique. The best way to successfully navigate this process is with a skilled attorney by your side. At Fait & DiLima, LLP, we understand that your children are your priority, and we are here to help.
Contact Fait & DiLima, LLP at (301) 251-0100 to schedule a consultation with our child custody attorneys today.