How a Judge Will Decide What Is "Best for the Child"
When it comes to child custody, the courts will always choose what they
believe is in the best interest of the child. Forcing change upon a child
is the last thing a judge wants to do. In some cases, where a child is
12 years of age or older, the court will ask the child who they would
prefer to live with.
If the parents have been separated for a while before the divorce was filed,
the judge will usually maintain the status quo of the child custody arrangement.
However, this decision will largely be made using the “best interest
of the child” standard – whether that includes one or both parents.
Some of the factors that a judge may take into consideration include:
- Any pre-existing child custody arrangements
- Emotional ties between the child and their parents
- The amount of time each parent spends with the child
domestic violence or substance abuse
- The ability of both parents to care for the child
There are some factors that judges will not consider. This includes the
parents' moral character. The actions of one parent do not affect
the decision unless their actions have a direct effect on the child. An
affair, for example, would not be considered if the child never knew or
does not understand.
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