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Considering What Is Best For The Child During Divorce

If you and your spouse are at odds over child custody plans, you may need to view the issue from a new perspective. It's all too easy to forget the prime objective of all divorce parenting plans – to do what is best for the child, and that is not necessarily what is best for the parents. With that in mind, take a look at some thoughts on what the family court judge is looking for when it comes to making custody and visitation decisions.

Parental Fitness

This facet of child custody can be the most contentious of all divorce matters. Unfortunately, parents may resort to claims of parental wrong-doing to further their own cause and desire for full custody. To a judge, that can either look like the parent is vindictive and unscrupulous or like they are trying to protect the child from bad parenting. It takes more than just a disagreement about religion or discipline to influence custody, however. Judges can and do order child custody evaluations if one parent is alleging serious wrong-doing like abuse, illegal substance use, and more. If you are trying to obtain full custody by using false allegations, there is a chance things could backfire once the case is investigated.

Child Preferences

Most children under the age of 10 or so are ill-equipped to chose between two parents when it comes to custody, and they are seldom asked to do so. Some judges use custody evaluation experts, and some question the child casually in (relative) privacy to determine their preferences. The older a child is, the more likely it is that they can have a say in the decision.

Age of Child and Parental Gender

In times past, babies and young children would almost automatically be placed in the care of the mother – barring problems with the mother. This action was based on the so-called "tender age" doctrine but is not in use in most states now. All else being equal, the age of the child is not supposed to influence custody with regard to gender. That being said, the idea persists and can be a factor in custody decisions.

Parental Attitudes

Judges understand how important it is for both parents to be part of a child's life, and custody and visitation orders can allow that to happen. The parent's attitude about this particular way of taking the best interest of the child into account can affect court rulings. Unless the other parent is woefully unfit and you can prove it in court, it's best to be as flexible as possible with custody and visitation arrangements. Your willingness to do so could mean a better future for your child.

To find out more about custody issues and what is best for your child, speak to your divorce lawyer.