Judges are supposed to take careful consideration of all the factors that are important to the welfare of a child when they make their determinations. It is incorrect to believe that custody issues are determined by their unique patterns. The reality of it is that the number and variety of cases that are assigned to each judge prevents careful scrutiny and consideration when it comes to determining custody. So, judges have developed some very broad guidelines that they follow when they are making custody determinations. These guidelines are called “The Best Interest of the Child Standard”.
The Best Interest of the Child Standard contains several factors that judges take in to consideration when deciding what the best arrangements will be for the child. They are:
1. The relationship between the child and each of his/her parents.
2. Any instances or accusations of spousal or child abuse.
3. The results of any testing (psychiatric, etc).
4. The ages and sex of children (although there are more fathers raising daughters and mothers raising sons these days).
5. The adjustment and length of time that the children have resided in each home environment.
6. The need for special emotional or physical care of the child.
7. If the child is mature, where he or she would prefer to reside.
8. Any agreements that have been made between the parents.
9. The educational needs of the child.
10. Separation of siblings.
11. The length of time that the child has been in the custodial home.
12. The permanence of any proposed home.
13. The mental and physical health of each of the parents.
14. Any prior custody determinations.
15. The level of hostility between the parents.
16. The flexibility of each parent when working with the other parent.
17. Overall parenting skills.
18. Any substance abuse by either parent.
19. Religious concerns.
20. The morality of each parent.
21. Care taking arrangements for the child prior to and following separation.
22. If the parent is likely to remove the child from the jurisdiction.
23. If a parent will alienate the affections of the child from the other parent.
These are all the conditions that judges are looking for when they are making a custody decision.
In most divorce cases, the parents are very focused on making the other parent out to be the worst parent ever. By looking at these standards that a judge will be considering, examine how you can prove to the judge that you are the better parent. What changes do you need to make in your life to make you the better parent in the Family Court’s eyes? Start making them. Family Court isn’t simply about making the other parent look bad to a judge, it is about making you look better.