Child custody is one of the—if not the single—most stressful issues parents have to deal with in divorce. Parents, of course, want to continue to be a part of their children’s lives even if their marriage fails, and the research shows that maintaining a close relationship with parents after their divorce can help mitigate the negative effects of divorce on children.
Ideally, parents would be able to overcome any personal animosity they have toward one another as their marriage ends and negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement concerning child custody. In reality, parents can’t always do this, and sometimes for good reasons. When parents cannot agree, they have to rely on the intervention and discretion of a judge to resolve their differences.
The central and determining issue in any child custody is the best interests of the child. Family law courts evaluate proposed child custody arrangements on the basis of what will be most beneficial for the child. There are a variety of factors courts consider when making this decision. Some of the factors concern the various needs of the child, whether educational, developmental, medical, psychological, and so on. Other factors concern the character and circumstances of the parents and their relationships with one another. Still other factors touch upon the parents’ relationship with the child. Ultimately, courts can take into consideration any factor deemed to be relevant to the best interests of the child.
Having a zealous advocate in the child custody process is critical to ensuring a parent’s interests are well represented to the court. A skilled attorney will know how to make sure that the court has all the information it needs to make the best decision possible. We’ll say more about this in our next post.