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Top 4 Things That Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases

Published at March 31, 2021 by administrator.

Anyone dealing with the stress of child custody cases knows how overwhelming they can be. Often, each parent sees this time as a fighting period, and the pressure can be difficult on both parties involved and the children. Physical custody, child support, and visitation issues can compound the stress.

If you are going through a divorce, these tips can help you focus on what the judge will be looking for in your case. You can also consider hiring an attorney to help you with this process and relieve the pressure while acting as your advocate every step of the way.

1. Best Interests of the Children

The judges who oversee child custody cases are very familiar with this process. Their most important overall goal is to find a solution in the best interests of the children. The judge will look at all information presented to them to determine what they believe to be in the children’s best interest.

Many factors go into determining child custody cases, but often, this starts with factoring in two critical issues:

–          The Age of the Children

o   Although younger children often remain in the mother’s household, this is not always the case. The judge will look at many factors to help determine the suitability of both homes.

o   Nursing babies do remain with the mother if it is a safe environment.

–          The Children’s Preferences

o   Younger children may still be asked their preferred living situation, but the judge will decide based on the entire case and information presented.

o   Older children can give their preference, although the State of Florida does not require the judge to abide by these preferences.

o   The State of Florida does not have a specific age in which it will or will not consider a child’s preference. The judge will look at the overall maturity of the child.

There are no hard and fast rules about what a judge will determine is in the child’s best interest. Some of these other things listed below will also be part of the judge’s determination before deciding their verdict.

2. Parent’s Living and Working Situations

A mother working on her computer while her child sits on her lap.
A parent’s lifestyle will be a major factor in the judge’s decision to grant custody

The judge will look at both parents’ living situations and daily life, including where they live, who they live with, their daily lifestyle, and working status. Every family is different, so it may help hire an attorney to help prepare you.

Some specific information the judge will be looking for regarding living and working situations include:

  • Does the parent live in a stable home?
  • Does the parent have a regular work schedule?
  • Is the parent living alone or with other people?
  • What type of support system does the parent have?
  • What child care options will the parent turn to?
  • Can the parent regularly follow through with the school schedule of the children?
  • Historical information on the parent’s ability to arrange their schedule
  • How often the child would have to be in daycare.

A parent living on their brother’s couch would be looked at differently from a parent who has a stable living situation, like an apartment. The judge would also consider any past information about a parent’s ability to adjust work schedules for sick children or other child care problems.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to where a parent lives or works. A parent could certainly work an overnight shift and still gain custody if a family member helped to care for the children, for example.

Overall, the judge will look at all the case information and determine which home would provide the most stability. The judge will look at both current and past data to help make their determination.             

3. Parent’s Willingness to Co-Parent

Divorce and separations are stressful for children. Child custody cases make the situation even more stressful. A judge will be looking at each parent’s willingness to co-parent with the other.

The judge will ask for information about the parent’s relationship since separation and how each parent has handled the split. The judge will want to see each parent being respectful of the other parent and harboring positive care coordination.

Parents who can be optimistic about the other parent get priority over a consistently negative parent. A parent who commits to helping build a co-parenting relationship will be looked upon very favorably by a judge.

4. Stability and Continuity

A mother and child looking at the ocean.

An ongoing issue for the judge will be which parent can provide continuity for the children. Child custody cases are prone to delve deep into the family’s history. The judge will be willing to hear evidence regarding each parent’s past relationship with the children.

Some items the judge will consider in their determination include:

  • Current and past relationship with children
  • Any history of neglect or violence
  • Where have children been living
  • Whether one parent has a more stable lifestyle
  • Whether one parent is the primary caregiver historically

The child custody process can be very emotional and exhausting. It is helpful to take notes on everything throughout the process and keep track of any issues before the court case. You do not need an attorney to be involved in a child custody case, but having one can be extraordinarily helpful! 

How Can Hiring an Attorney Help?

Understanding some of the things a judge looks for in a child custody case can help ease your concerns, but having an attorney on your side will be even better. At Shane Stafford, your attorney is your number one advocate.

Your attorney will walk you through all the steps of child custody cases and ensure your case is as strong as possible. They will work with you to help gather the necessary information for the judge and build your case.

Every case is different but having an attorney on your side regardless of your situation is the best possible approach.

Contact the Shane Stafford Law Firm today for a free consultation! Or Call us at (561) 540-4533. We are ready and eager to help you with your child custody case.

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