Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Child Custody Determinations

During a child custody determination, parents are closely scrutinized according to many factors. Since there are no laws that state any one factor is most important in this determination, a judge is encouraged to consider all aspects of the parent's ability. In most states, hearings regarding child custody fall under the family court system, meaning these judges are particularly suited to making an informed decision. Here are some of the factors and circumstances a family court judge is likely to take into account during a custody determination.

Custody Factors

Because family law branches into a bit of a gray area, judges consider many different areas of a parent's ability. A judge is most likely to award custody to the parent who can provide the greatest stability and care to the child. Environment, financial security, and emotional attachment to a particular parent are just a few of the factors a judge will take into account. In younger children, emotional support and care are considered to be the most important, while education and stability are often considered to be more important in older children. Regardless of age, continuity in all aspects of life is a paramount concern.

The best interests of the child are what truly concern a family court judge. Both the child and the parent's issues are taken into account. Older children are often asked which parent would be a better caregiver for them, but this consideration is not always taken into account. The child's gender and age are often taken into account, as further development and informed growth are pertinent aspects of parenting. The child's social development and each parent's ability to maintain growth in this area is also important.

Parental Determinations

Parents are often judged on many separate factors as well. Mental, physical, and financial stability are paramount. While a parent's financial situation is not a primary concern, it often will affect the determination regarding fiscal responsibilities, such as child support payments. Where each parent lives is also a consideration, as a judge often wishes to keep the child in an environment that is familiar to them. Any indication of abuse will most assuredly bar a parent from any level of custody. Domestic abuse to the ex-spouse is also considered, as it may indicate the possibility of child abuse later. Lastly, a willingness to cooperate with the other parent is a sign of maturity and parenting ability, and is often important to a judge.


As the laws pertaining to custody of a child are interpretive, some of these factors may not be considered. Often a judge may make a determination based on who they feel is a better parent, which may not always be the most logical standpoint. The best thing a parent can do is to provide real scenarios and testimony on how they can care for the child, rather than attempt to slander the "opposing" parent. Parents should keep in mind that the healthiest way to deal with a custody determination is to attempt a joint custody agreement and work through their personal problems at a different time.

Divorce is never easy and if there is a child custody issue before the court the stakes become even higher. Always the goal for any family law attorney is to not only put the safety of the child first, but also to find a pathway to a successful outcome without the type of rancor that will prevent uncomfortable or hostile future interaction.

If you are concerned about your family law case and need a few minutes just to discuss what is going on give Saint-Pre and Associates a call today at (212) 951-0044. Or visit us on the web at http://www.mikesaintprelaw.com
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