Child custody disputes are amongst the most emotionally charged family law issues, and for good reason. The outcome of a child custody spat can affect not only your child’s well-being, but also your relationship with him or her. That’s why whether you’re going through divorce, are seeking a modification post-divorce, or are dealing with child custody matters outside the confines of marriage, you need to know how to build legal arguments that support your position.
The child’s best interests standard
In all child custody matter, the court will decide the matter based on what it thinks is in the child’s best interests. This best interests standard should guide your negotiations on the matter, too if you’re hoping to resolve a custody dispute without a judge’s intervention. But what, exactly, constitutes the child’s best interests? It is a sort of nebulous turn of words, which is why the law and case law have focused on a number factors that contribute to a best interests determination. Any of the following may be taken into account in your case:
- The child’s wishes if he or she is old enough to express them
- The emotional and physical needs of the child
- Each parent’s ability to meet those needs
- Any danger posed to the child, such as exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse, or child abuse or neglect
- The stability of each parent
- Each parent’s physical and psychological health
While that might sound like a lot to be taken into consideration, these are only some of the major points. The law generally allows the court to take any factors that it deems relevant into consideration, which gives you a lot of room for legal argument. Just be aware that it gives your child’s other parent a lot of room to argue, too.
Be prepared to handle your case
Far too often we see people’s emotions get the best of them in child custody disputes. Don’t let that happen to you. By working with an attorney who is adept at handling family law matters including child custody and visitation, you can better ensure that you develop the legal arguments needed to support your case, counter the arguments of your child’s other parent, and maximize your chances of securing the outcome that is best for your child.