Dads and moms have many fears and misconceptions surrounding many issues in a child custody battle. This article looks at how a court views your case and blows away the smoke surrounding the issue of how it comes to a decision about who gets custody of your child.
Firstly it is important to point out that custody laws do vary from state to state so it is essential that you engage the services of a child cusody attorney in the state in which the case will be heard.
Having said that judges in each state are guided by a few overarching principles as to how to decide your case.
1. Best Interests Of The Child
The overarching principle on which the court will make a desision as to who wins custody of your child will be “what are the best interests of the child?".
In looking at this question the judge will look at both parent and decide on their mental and physical health, their means and most importantly look at who has been the primary care giver for the child.
The wishes of the child may also be considered in some states provided the child has reached an age of maturity to contribute to the decision making process.
Other factors to consider are the opportunties for the child to maintain contact with the extended family of both parents, cultural factors, the child's education, the sex of the child and the degreee to which the child has a permanent base in a school.
The increasing use of psychologist's reports has seen a greater emphasis on the primary care giver guide in the last number of years.
2. Who Is The Primary Care Giver?
If the primary care giver is in the driving seat when it comes to custody being awarded how does the court decide who is the primary care giver?
The court will look at factors such as who brings the child to school, who prepares the child's meals, who looks after his/her day to day needs including medical needs, who helps with homework and the normal day to day activities which any child should experience.
To assist the court with this decision it will sometimes use a long check list with the various tasks listed out and check off who does what-tasks such as helpint or enforcing the brushing of teeth, reading stories at bed time, conferencing with teachers, doing laundry, holding cuddling and so on.
Keep in mind that the court will only be faced with a decision like this if the case comes to court in the absence of an agreement between parents. Clearly it is cheaper and less intrusive if both parents can come to an arrangement between themselves and then go to court to have their agreement made and order of court. This order will then become legally binding and can result in either parent going back to court to have it enforced, even though the court did not make this decision to begin with.
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