If you are the parent of a minor child and are going through a divorce, your spouse may still desire sole parental custody. The judge will ultimately determine with whom your child will live if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement. Nevertheless, there are factors that a judge typically considers when making his or her final determination. Here are a few questions he or she may want answered:
1. How close are you to your children?
Sometimes a parent who has had limited involvement in the rearing of his or children will pursue custody. The judge will consider the parent's request. However, the judge will ultimately award guardianship based on the best interest of a child. A youngster who has had a much closer relationship with one particular parent may be unduly traumatized by being placed with the other parent.
2. How old are your children?
Some judges favor awarding the custody of a young child to his or her mother, especially if the mother has been the primary caregiver. Traditionally, an infant may have a greater dependence on his or her mother than on the father.
3. Are you keeping the family home?
If you and your spouse have agreed that you will keep the family home, you may have an increased chance of winning custody. The judge will consider the living arrangements that will require the least adjustment for the child, and he or she may be reluctant to move a child to a different school district away from friends.
4. How stable are you financially?
If you are having trouble paying your bills and are unsure of when you will "get back on your feet," your chances of gaining primary custody may be limited. The judge will want the primary caregiver to be the parent who can provide the greatest stability. If your financial situation compromises your readiness to provide steady care, your spouse may be awarded primary custody, at least initially.
5. What does your child want?
When determining custody, the judge may consider the wishes of your child. However, a judge will usually only consider the desires of a child who is old enough to express his or her desires in the matter. Some judges disapprove of placing any of the weight of a custody decision on a child.
If you are a parent who is considering divorce, you will need to decide whether or not to pursue primary custody of your child. Once you know that you want to be your child's primary caregiver, consult with a divorce lawyer like Robert E Long & Associates Ltd. If your spouse also desires primary custody, your attorney can help you prepare a convincing argument to support your position.