Children First: Understanding Child Custody Disputes

When it comes to divorce, how well you and your spouse can make decisions about issues can directly relate to how stressful and lengthy your divorce will be. It can seem a bit strange that a virtual stranger is to be expected to decide on something like child custody, but if you cannot come to an agreement, that is exactly what will happen. Read on and learn more about how family courts evaluate disputed custody cases.

The Best Interest of the Child

If there is one overriding feature of the way family courts deal with matters pertaining to minor children, it is the best interest of the child. While at first glance this credo just seems like common sense, it is actually more complex than that, because what the family courts determine to be best for the child is often not what one or the other parent desires. Understanding this priority could help you to deal with this issue better.

Do Young Children Need Their Mothers More?

It would seem so, if you went by the statistics about who ends up getting custody of infants and toddler-aged children. While things have improved somewhat compared to the distant past when judges just arbitrarily awarded custody to the mothers of young children without evaluating their parental fitness, the fact remains that mothers are awarded physical custody of younger children more often than fathers. That said, unfit mothers can be called out and excluded, and it is not as uncommon for fathers to be awarded with custody. It may be more of a challenge, but in theory fathers are just as able to prove their fitness as a mother.

Who Retains the Family Home?

This is an issue that can seem unfair to the parent, but at the same time is one that benefits the child. Most children do better when the changes due to a divorce are kept to a minimum. Staying put in the same neighborhood with the same friends and going to the same school will cause the least amount of strife for a child of divorce. That doesn't mean that the parent who is awarded the home will automatically get custody, but it will be a consideration.

Often, both parents move away from the family home, but this does not diminish the importance of providing a good home environment for the child. In other words, if you are forced to "couch surf" and want custody of your child, you may need to find a better living environment. Wherever you choose, make sure it's safe, clean, and appropriate for your child, because a home visit may be in the offing.

Talk to your child custody attorney to learn more.