Understanding What's Best for Children in Disputed Custody Cases

Posted on: 8 November 2016

In a perfect world, you and your soon-to-be ex set your differences aside, get together and make a child custody and visitation plan on your own, without involving the family court system. Child custody can be among the most contentious of divorce issues, however, and in many cases this situation leads to a dispute that must be settled by the judge. The judge uses several factors in making a custody determination, and it pays to understand those factors. Read on to be informed about what to expect if you are destined for a court-ordered child custody dispute by viewing just two of these important factors.

The age of the child. In the not-too-distant past, judges awarded custody of babies and toddlers almost automatically to the mother, without regard to the wishes of the father or the relative fitness of the mother to do the job. Fast forward to the present, and, surprise: nothing much as changed. While more and more mothers work outside the home and more and more fathers are stay-at-home caregivers, mothers still retain supremacy when it comes to child custody. It's important to keep in mind, however, that judges are not uniformly stuck in the past for no valid reason; if the father can prove to be the fittest parent, they have every reason to seek custody.

Who is awarded the family home. It may seem unfair, but it's vital to understand that family court judges are tasked with keeping the best interest of the child in mind when making these custody decisions. The parent who is awarded the family home has the upper hand because the judge appraises the situation in terms of security and stability for the child. Divorce is a traumatic experience for everyone, but no one suffers more than innocent children. Keeping that child in the same familiar home, neighborhood, and school setting is advantageous to the health and welfare of the child.

If both parents are leaving the home for a new living situation, the issue of a proper and appropriate home situation for the child is no less diminished in importance. Care must be taken by the parent who wants custody when choosing a new home, be it an apartment or a family member's spare room. The judge will be looking closely at the child's potential living conditions in regard to safety and health, so ensure that you are in a safe place for the child's sake above all else.