Fighting for custody can be an ugly process for all that are involved. Unfortunately, disagreements over custody are all too common and something most should be prepared for. In that regard, understanding how courts determine child custody is essential.
When two parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding who retains the right to raise their child, the decision falls to the court system. In these kinds of cases, the court’s ultimate goal is to determine what is best for the child and this can hinge on a few conditions such as:
- The child’s gender
- The child’s age
- Both parents’ medical history
- Proximity of both parents’ homes to extended family
In short, a child’s “best interest” can mean many things. In the face of such a vague concept, knowing what to expect when battling for custody is essential. Read on for a few considerations you should make before constructing your case.
Maintain a Proper Home Environment
One of the first things the courts will look at when determining which parent a child should stay with is the home environment they provide. Maintaining a healthy and nurturing lifestyle is essential in proving that you are able to properly raise a child. So what constitutes a healthy home environment?
Many courts will agree that a safe home that meets the basic standards of cleanliness is proper for looking after a child. A parent’s physical and mental health is also a facet of a nurturing home environment. Parents should also expect to have their health records looked into as their condition directly correlates to their ability to provide for their child.
Enlist the Services of a Child Custody Attorney
Both parents should seek the assistance of a child custody attorney. Many may make the assumption that working with a divorce attorney may cover their bases since most custody battles stem from divorce. This isn’t the case unfortunately as not all divorce attorneys are well versed in family law and custody issues. With such a delicate and sensitive procedure, nothing can quite measure up to working with a specialist.
Take Notes and Gather the Proper Documentation
Like most cases, custody hearings are rife with documentation and legality and so preparing ahead of time is essential. Speak to your child custody attorney and take notes on what the process will involve. Furthermore, be prepared to hold onto all documentation handed to you during the process and to also keep a list of potential witnesses to parenting skills.
Work With a Therapist
If your child has experience with a therapist, that specialist might understand better than most what constitutes his or her best interest. Many counselors might be hesitant to make recommendations as to which parent custody should be awarded but they can at least speak to what the child needs in order to lead a stable life.
Custody battles are more than simply determining who the child wants to stay with. First and foremost, it’s about determining best interest. As a parent fighting for custody, your goal should be convincing the court that living with you is the healthiest option for your child. Keep these few tips in mind and start your case off with a strong foundation.