If you are facing a divorce with a particularly unstable or erratic spouse, you are likely concerned about how to protect your child throughout the process. Child custody is one of the most difficult parts of a divorce settlement. Emotions run high when the outcome is so very important.
What factors affect child custody?
A judge will want to know that a child is in a safe and nurturing environment when hearing your custody case. In most situations, judges would prefer to grant joint custody to both parents. Sadly, that is not always an option.
The judge will consider what is in the child’s best interest and how the following affect that:
- Each parent’s ability to provide emotional support
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s physical, educational and spiritual needs
- How long the child has lived in a stable environment, if that should continue
- The stability of your living situation
- Each parent’s past criminal history and how it could affect your child
- Your child’s preference, depending on their age
- The distance between each parent’s residences
Judges will also consider any arrangement you can agree to in a mediation setting out of court. They may also consider the opinion of a professional evaluator assigned to your case.
When will a judge consider sole custody?
If a judge determines that one parent is unfit to raise their children, or that they have done something that should result in loss of parenting privileges, they may grant sole custody to the other parent. The other parent may have visitation privileges under specific conditions.
However, you will need strong evidence to prove this. A judge will want to know that you have taken all the appropriate steps to give the other parent a chance to step up. If they cannot prove themselves, then you will need to gather the evidence you need to protect your child in the future.