What Sways The Judge's Opinion In A Child Custody Order?
Posted on: 28 November 2022
Child custody can be one of separation and divorce's most emotionally driven challenges. Even though you both claim you have the child's best interest at heart, there are usually numerous points of contention regarding custody. If you cannot create a child custody arrangement outside of court, here are a few factors most judges consider.
Current Living Arrangements
Separation and divorce can be tumultuous times for children, regardless of age. Not only are there changes in their immediate household makeup, but the separation can cause changes in other areas of their lives. Some of these changes may include the following:
- Their address
- Their schools
- Their before and after-school care
- Their friends
- Their extra-curricular activities
These are just a few. The last thing a judge wants to do is upset the new norms a child is just getting used to. In many cases, the court will try to keep the current living arrangement in place by incorporating temporary orders.
Your Physical Environment
When the court becomes involved in your child custody case, it becomes its duty to ensure your child's safety. While your physical environment does not need to be palatial, you must have the ability to meet your child's basic needs.
The court would be hard-pressed to award you custody if you do not have a stable living environment. Not only would the court view this arrangement as unsafe, but it would also consider it transitional, which would not provide the stability a child needs.
The court will also consider what type of relationship you currently have with your child. Were you the primary parent before the divorce? Were you involved with their school or extra-curricular activities?
While most parents claim they have an excellent relationship with their child, the judge has ways of researching this claim. The court has the right to appoint a Guardian ad litem to represent the child's best interest. A Guardian ad litem is a neutral third party who becomes the eyes and ears of the court.
The court authorizes the guardian ad litem to visit your home, speak with your child outside your presence, and report their findings to the court.
Your Child's Preferences
Depending on your child's age, the court may ask them where they want to live. This age is a discretionary number that varies from case to case. While one ten-year-old may be mature enough to state their opinion, another may not.
Asking the child to choose can often place the child in a very awkward position of having to choose between their mother and father. The judge understands this and will not use their preference as the only grounds for their decision.
To find out more, contact a custody lawyer.Share