One of the most challenging aspects of divorce is battling over child custody. No matter how capable both parents are, the court's decision will be unpredictable. Mothers, most especially in the past, commonly have the advantage in the court, but as times have changed, fathers have also been winning these cases. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 2 million single fathers in the country as of 2016, with 40% of them being divorcees.
Several factors are considered by courts before deciding who gets child custody rights. If you're a divorcee with strong hopes of winning custody for your child, an experienced divorce attorney in Nassau County and other places can be your representative.
The Child's Best Interest
The goal of the court is to promote the best interest of the child, just like every parent. While making the decision, the court will consider each party's parenting ability, whether who can provide the child's physical and emotional needs better. The parents' mental health will be considered as well while the court decides who is more capable.
Generally speaking, the court prefers the child to be able to maintain their routines. This means staying in the same house, going to the same school, and receiving the same care, among many others. The child's age plays a considerable part as well. When they're too young, the court is aware that they need more hands-on care. In this scenario, the parent who's the primary caregiver can be given deference by the court. The child's bond with each parent is also examined and when the child is old enough, the court may even consider granting their wishes.
How Parents are Assessed
The court will listen to the wishes of each parent. Although this doesn't mean they will be granted, knowing the preferences of each parent will help the jury in making a decision. Judges will also determine if the parents would be willing to support their child's ongoing relationship with the other parent.
The majority of care given to the child is also considered. If one parent doesn't spend much time caring for the child because of other priorities, this will have an impact on the court's decision.
In typical cases, the court will ask the parents to submit a child custody evaluation. This determines which parent has the ability to provide the child with a loving and stable environment. Moreover, the court will check both parents' homes to see who can accommodate the child better.
Any evidence of domestic violence will also be looked upon closely. This includes neglect and/or abuse. If a parent claims that the other abuses or neglects the child, the validity of this claim will be carefully examined.
Types of Child Custody
Child custody has two types: legal custody and physical custody. Visitation rights can be given to the parent who isn't given custody for the child.
Legal custody is when one or both parents are given the legal authority to make major decisions for the child. Legal custody comes in two forms, sole and joint. Sole legal custody is when only one parent is given this legal authority, while joint legal custody is when both parents share legal authorities.
Physical custody refers to where the child would live the majority of the time. It comes in three forms, sole, joint, and bird's nest custody. Sole physical custody is when the child would live in one location only, with one parent. Joint physical custody, on the other hand, is when the child can live with one parent for a certain period and then move in with the other parent for the same amount of time. Bird's nest custody is when either parent is allowed to live in the child's home in rotating schedules.
When fighting for child custody, remember that your focus should be your child's well-being, just like how the court puts this first. Consult a lawyer to learn more about the case and determine your next move.