Unexpected Factors That May Impact Your Child Custody Case
Child custody arrangements are one of the most emotionally challenging parts of any divorce. Even in cases where you and your former spouse are separating on amicable terms, settling on custody of your children is not an easy task. If you are unable to make satisfactory arrangements with your partner, then your case will go before a judge. It can often feel as though you are facing insurmountable odds when this happens, but it is crucial to understand that the court's only concern is for the welfare and well-being of your child.
Typically, courts will consider which parent was already acting as the primary caregiver along with the preferences of the child. Additional considerations commonly include the stability of the home each parent is likely to provide, availability of community support, and continuity of schooling. Most parents who enter into custody battles are aware of these factors, but other considerations may come into play in your case.
The court will consider more than just your availability and the availability of your former spouse. If it can be established that your child has an existing, close relationship with relatives (grandparents, for example), then the court will be forced to consider how custody arrangements will affect that relationship. Although it is rarely the deciding factor, moving a child to an area where they will lose the ability to stay in contact with close relatives can harm the case. These relationships may also take on a more significant role in the case if the relatives in question live with either parent.
Special Educational Needs
Educational continuity is an essential part of any child custody case, but it may take a central role if your child has special needs. In these cases, courts will usually prefer to avoid disrupting your child's education as much as is possible. Be aware, however, that these considerations extend beyond allowing your child to continue at their current school. If one parent typically helps the child with homework or provides rides or other support then this will also be taken into account. Lifestyle disruptions are often unavoidable following a divorce, but most judges will err on the side that allows for the most stability.
Willingness to Compromise
Surprisingly, judges often look favorably on parents who can compromise for the welfare of their child. These compromises can take many forms, but they often include actions such as moving closer to relatives or altering work schedules to create a more stable home environment. Your goal should not be to compete with your former spouse to prove who will sacrifice the most, but it is essential to show a willingness to alter your lifestyle in ways that will benefit your child.
Ultimately, every child custody case is unique since every child is unique. Factors that apply to other cases may not affect yours, and there may be particularly unusual circumstances for your case that a judge must consider. Having a talented family law attorney on your side is the best way to ensure that you fully understand how your case is likely to play out once you are in front of the judge.