Divorce is always a difficult process, and it only becomes even more challenging when children are involved. Parents often wonder if they will have to pay child support and, even more importantly, if they will win their child custody case. During the divorce process, a judge will consider what is in the best interests of the child during custody proceedings. When determining what is in the child’s best interests, they will apply 12 factors to the case, which are found below.
The emotional ties between the child and each parent are one of the biggest factors in child custody cases. A judge will consider which parent the child has bonded with more, how each parent relates to the child, and which parent the child goes to when they have a problem.
A judge will also consider which parent helps the child with their schoolwork and which parent attends religious events with the child. Being active in the child’s extracurricular activities is also an important factor.
A child’s basic needs must always be met, even after divorce. The court will determine which parent has the best capacity to provide these for the child and may consider the employment of each parent and the flexibility in their work hours.
The courts will also consider the home environment of each parent. The parent that can raise the argument that their home is a more stable environment will increase their chances of being awarded child custody.
People often remarry after divorce. They will have a new spouse and perhaps even stepchildren. A judge will also consider these individuals, and their relationship to the child, during custody hearings.
If one parent had a substance abuse problem during the marriage, or had an affair the child knew about, it will work against that parent during custody proceedings.
Parents must be physically and mentally capable of raising a child. As such, this is an important consideration when custody decisions are made.
It is typically considered detrimental to remove a child from a school, community, or activities they enjoyed during the marriage. If it is determined that removing the child from the community will be detrimental, a judge may decide to leave them with the parent that will remain in that environment.
The preference of the child is not always considered in custody hearings. However, when the child is of a certain age and maturity, the judge will listen to the child’s preference.
Alienating the child from one parent is considered one of the most detrimental things a parent can do, but many people do it. A judge will consider the ability and willingness of each spouse to foster a good relationship with the other parent after divorce.
Domestic violence is a very serious offense. If a child was the victim of domestic violence at any time or witnesses domestic violence during the marriage, it would hurt the offending parent’s case.
Judges are given some discretion during child custody hearings. If there is other relevant information, such as if the child has a disability, a judge will also take this into consideration.
Child custody is one of the most difficult aspects of divorce. If you are getting a divorce and children are involved, our Grand Rapids family lawyers at Van Den Heuvel Law Office can help. We will fully explain the above factors and how they apply to your case, and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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