If you are seeking custody of your kids, it’s critical to know everyone’s role, and what’s expected from you.
You know that your lawyer is looking out for you; and your Ex’s lawyer isn’t. But what does a judge look for in a child custody cases? While all sides will tell you they are looking out for the best interest of the child, the judge, as a disinterested party usually gets to make that determination.
While those determinations change from state-to-state, some general guidelines can be determined. (We are not addressing the more obvious breaches such as arrest records, drugs or child abuse.)
How involved has the father been in raising the child? A long-term, consistent, almost daily involvement in your child’s life sends the signal that you have taken an active role in your child’s upbringing. And it’s often less about family outings and vacations and more about changing diapers and helping with homework.
Job stability and frequent travel. The father often has a better job than the mother, and therefore can possibly better provide for the child’s well-being. But often means extensive travel, and time away from home. What changes in the father’s job can occur to allow him more time at home? What childcare exceptions can be made? Does the father have a relative nearby? Does he have family help? Can he count on that person to handle any emergencies? If left in the care of grandparents, are they healthy enough to deal with the stresses of some daycare for their grand kids? Do they embrace this responsibility, or is their son pressuring them into a position they actually dread?
What about the father’s lifestyle? Above all, a child needs stability. A father anxious to enjoy or exploit his “new freedom,” may not be creating the best environment for raising his kids. Judges also frown on non-married couples living together. A young or relatively young father might have to sacrifice an active social life for his child’s benefit.
These are just three of innumerable considerations judges make with regards to determining child custody. Laws and conditions vary from state to state, so even the situations listed above should only be considered as a starting point. For your particular situation so do extensive research before you enter the courtroom. Know what the judge wants, and you can meet those expectations. In future posts, I’ll address “10 Strategies I Did Right, to Gain Full Custody.”
What elements have you found that judges look for? What factors did you present for custody in your child custody case?
Fred Campos is father to three and primary custodian to his daughter Caitlyn from a previous relationship. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons