Divorce is a difficult time in everyone’s life. Emotional turmoil combines with financial instability and often makes both parties nervous and overwhelmed. People often view rising divorce rates as a negative factor in human life, but an argument can be made for the opposite. When a marriage ends, it is not a happy marriage. Instead, divorce brings about the end of bad marriages, which is something we can all be thankful for.
Unfortunately, an unintended causality of divorce is often children. Where the child will end up and how much contact they will have with their noncustodial parent are important factors in nearly every divorce. Let’s look at what factors the courts will look at when determining custody.
The court will make a judgment call on how stable a person is based on how well they can provide for themselves and others. They will look at their financial situation and work history as indicators that they can care for another person. They will also evaluate their home life, including their extended family and the support systems they employ. Any person in the parent’s network that may have contact with their child will be used to evaluate the safety of their home life.
Mental and Physical Health
A parent who is physically or mentally unwell may, in the court’s eyes, be unfit for raising a child. Issues with mental health, in particular, can indicate a possibility of abuse or an unsafe living environment. The court will attempt to place the child in the care of the healthiest family member.
Criminal History or History of Substance Abuse
The court will examine each parent’s history, looking for indications of abuse or irresponsibility. A criminal past may not make you entirely ineligible for custody, but a history of child-related crimes or abuse certainly will. Similarly, crimes involving substance abuse or violent behaviors are used as examples that show one is unfit for parenting.
The Child’s Wishes
The court may consider the child’s preference when assigning custody. Usually, the court will wait until the child is at least 12 years old before their opinion will sway the court’s judgment.
If you are going through a divorce, or are concerned about your child’s custody, call Outhier & Caruthers, PLLC, at (580) 234-6600.