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What Information Is Considered During a Divorce to Determine Child Custody?

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What Information Is Considered During a Divorce to Determine Child Custody?

One of the biggest things that many parents are concerned about during divorce proceedings is child custody. You want to ensure that your child has the best future possible, and you also want to fully ensure that you are presenting the strongest case possible to get child custody. What types of things do judges consider over the course of the divorce process when determining child custody?

How Does the Court Determine Child Custody?

If both parents cannot work together to come to an agreement, the court is left with the responsibility to determine the terms of the parenting plan. The primary aim of the judge is to determine what is in the best interest of the child or children involved. State child custody law dictates the factors that the judge can consider, and they include:

  • The child’s preferences
  • Moral fitness (whether or not past conduct has or is likely to negatively impact the child in the future)
  • The capacity of each parent to be involved with the child’s schooling, extracurricular activities and life
  • If both parents have shown their ability and willingness to work with the other parent to honor the time-sharing schedule and encourage the child to maintain a relationship with the other parent
  • If both parents have shown a willingness and ability to determine, consider and act upon the needs of the child ahead of their own

How Does the Child’s Preference Factor In?

During the child custody case, the judge can weigh the preference of the children involved when determining the parenting plan. However, it cannot and will not be the only factor that is examined. If a parent would like to have the testimony of their minor children weighed, they must request the child to attend and get approval from the court. If the request is granted, the judge can allow the minor child to testify about their preference, typically in the judge’s office without the lawyers or parents present.

Can the Parenting Plan Be Modified?

Once the court issues the parenting plan, it is legally binding for both parents until future modification. In order to request modification, there needs to be a substantial, unanticipated change in circumstances. It is critical to work with an experienced lawyer to ensure that you make a strong case. Some of the situations that are considered substantial include:

  • Child abuse
  • The death of a parent
  • Conviction of a crime
  • Arrests for a DUI with the child in the car
  • And more

In some cases, the combination of circumstance changes might warrant a parenting plan change in the eyes of the court.

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