Going through the process of deciding child custody can get confusing or messy depending on your situation as an family lawyer from our friends at the Brandy Austin Law Firm know all too well. It’s often encouraged that the parents try to come to an agreement during mediation first but it’s common to be at a disagreement about who will have custody. At that point, a family court judge can step in to help decide who gets custody, based on the best interest of the child.
There are quite a few factors that judges look at when making this decision in order to be sure that the child is placed in the best care. One of the factors is the child’s age and if they are old enough to articulate which parent they’d rather be with. If they are, then the judge will take that into consideration, within reason. One major factor that a judge will take into consideration is the home environment of the parent and their history. This includes any possible criminal record or report of domestic violence as well as substance abuse. These factors can be key to show the kind of environment this child will be raised in which is crucial while looking for what’s best for the child. The relationship that the parent has with the child as well as any sibling relationships this child has will also play a part in which household the child will live in. The relationship the judge sees between a parent and the child will generally reflect the life they will have in that household and will show that the parents cares for the child and makes time to take care of them. The amount of time a parent is able to dedicate to their child is also important in the judge’s decision. Even if one parent earns more money than the other, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will automatically earn custody. If they are going to be too occupied with work or travel and cannot provide an adequate amount of time with their child, that can possibly prevent them from receiving full custody.
Since there are different types of custody agreements, if you are not awarded custody of your child you can still have visitation rights in order to be able to build a relationship with your child. The different types of child custody agreements are sole custody, primary custody, or joint custody. Sole custody is when there is one parent that has physical custody of the child all or most of the time, they can also make decisions on behalf of the child, which is called legal custody. Next is primary custody, primary custody is when the child spends most of their time with one parent but the other parent still has visitation hours and parenting time. With this custody agreement, the primary parent may have legal custody or legal custody may be shared which means both parents can make decisions on behalf of the child. The type of custody agreement varies for each family and each situation. The most common type of child custody agreement is joint custody, this is beneficial to the child because they get to spend time with both parents and have influence from both of them. This is also beneficial to the parents because they both get an equal amount of time with their child and most times but not always, they share legal custody. The factors that help a judge decide who gets custody of the child also help the judge decide which visitation hours the other parent is allowed.
Throughout this process it’s important to try to come to an agreement out of court, if that’s not possible then a lawyer and judge can help you every step of the way. They understand that this is a very difficult situation to be in and will work to make a decision in the best interest of your child which is what any parent would wish for. Reach out to a lawyer near you for help immediately.