As a parent, it is normal to feel like you deserve all the time in the world with your child. However, marriage separation introduces other aspects that make it difficult for both parents to achieve this.
One of the most common sources of complications in a divorce is child custody and the judge has to decide what’s best for the child.
Child custody can also be arranged outside court by divorcing parents, with the help of a family law attorney or an independent arbitrator. This is usually a voluntary agreement and is easier to settle.
If the parents cannot agree informally, the court takes over to decide which parent gets the kids in a divorce. Children are also allowed to give a statement or state their wishes but this alone cannot be used to make the final decision.
Below is a list of additional factors that the court will consider when settling a child custody case.
Parent’s Physical and Mental Health
The health of a parent has a big impact on the child’s well-being. Spending a lot of time in the hospital might deplete your savings, leaving your child not properly taken care of. You might also be staying in bed or hospital too much that there’s not enough time left to spend with the kids.
The court will enquire about any physical or history of mental health problems among the parents. You’ll also need to disclose any possibility of developing a health issue in the future per your doctor’s assessment.
Parent’s Financial and Earning Capacity
A parent’s ability to provide for the child is a significant concern when determining child custody.
Ideally, the primary caregiver should have the ability to earn and cater to the child’s basic needs. However, it is also possible for one partner to be the provider, but less inclined to take care of the child when it comes to things like emotional ties.
A Child’s Wishes
Some states allow older children, typically 14 years and above, to make a statement in court regarding their wishes. A younger child can also have their preferences documented even though their statements have less say than their older counterparts.
Although the court cannot use these statements like they would a professional or parent’s recommendation, they are still taken into consideration.
Parent’s Living Arrangements
The court will also consider a parent’s living situation to determine whether there’s enough physical and moral room for the child too.
How far or close is it to the child’s previous residence? Where are most relatives and friends living? Does the home promote or undermine moral training, guidance, affection, and personal fulfillment?
An ideal home for the child will be clean, stable, in a safe area, and well-managed, especially if they are young. The judge will also enquire about the address and any residential changes to which the kids have to adjust.
Emotional ties between a child and the parent are crucial for proper psychological and social development. Therefore, the court has to consider which parent has developed a deep bond with the kid.
Some of the questions that the court uses to determine this are meant to understand a parent’s knowledge of their child’s interests and likes.
The Child’s Primary Caregiver
Having the deepest emotional ties with your child is not enough. The court will also consider which partner has consistently been caring for the child.
This care is not limited to financial support. Other things like feeding, transportation, guidance, and teaching will also be considered when determining a child’s main caregiver.
However, the court will also examine a parent’s employment situation and how much time it leaves for them to care for a child. This ensures that the final decision is not biased towards an unemployed partner just because they have more time at their disposal.