What are the child’s “best interests”?
One of the biggest areas of misunderstanding in a divorce involving minor children is how the Court determines who is awarded custody of the minor children. There are a lot of non-lawyers that give their friends and family advice about what happens, but there is no single rule and no single fact that determines who is awarded custody. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parents, the Court must consider each of the “best interest” factors which are as follows:
A. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
B. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
C. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
D. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
E. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
F. The moral fitness of the parties involved.
G. The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
H. The home, school, and community record of the child.
I. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
J. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to faciitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
K. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
L. Any other factor considererd by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
The bottom line in considering any child custody issue is to talk with an attorney as soon as possible so that you will understand the law and understand how the law applies to your specific situation. Call The Smart Law Group with any child custody, parenting time or any other divorce related question.