When a couple that shares a child ends their marriage, one of the most important issues they have to address is their child’s custody and parenting arrangement. Ideally, the court promotes an arrangement where both parents are actively involved in the child’s upbringing. However, if the parties cannot agree on a parenting plan, the family court has to step in and give direction.
The family court uses the “best interest of the child” as a standard when litigating child custody cases. Generally, here are three questions the court will ask when determining a child custody case:
What is each parent’s ability to provide for the child?
Every child requires a clean, safe and conducive home among other basic needs to thrive. The parent must understand and commit to providing for these needs. Providing for the child’s needs also includes fostering a healthy relationship between the child and both parents. A parent who is unable to provide for the child or build a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent will have a difficult time litigating their custody case.
Is the home stable?
The child’s current living arrangement is another important factor when determining custody. Most children get anxious and frightened following their parents’ divorce. Disrupting the child’s schedule by moving them to a new home, school or social engagements can increase their anxiety levels and lead to emotional problems. As such, the court will often favor keeping the child the child in the home they are familiar with—provided the home is stable and conducive.
Does the child have any preferences?
Sometimes, the child’s preference may come into play when determining a custody arrangement. If the child willfully expresses the desire to live with a particular parent, the court may consider their wishes depending on their level of maturity.
Child custody can be heavily contested during the divorce. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and interests while litigating your child custody case.