Divorce is challenging for everyone involved, even the family attorney, but child custody issues are possibly the most stressful aspects of an ending marriage. There is little more trying – emotionally and mentally – than settling a custody dispute. Ultimately, if the parents cannot agree on an arrangement, then the courts will deliver a ruling based on the child’s “best interests.”
Child Welfare clarifies the confusion about what exactly defines “best interests.” However, there is no fixed definition because each case is unique. “Best interests” refers to a court process that helps judges decide on the most suitable custodian. The court has more concern for the child’s continued well-being and safety than the opinions of parents.
If you have questions about child custody, alimony, asset division or other aspects of family law, then contact the Zachary Law Group, PLC. We can evaluate your case and represent you personal and financial interests. Call us today at 480-389-3533 to schedule a consultation.
Until then, read on to learn four factors that a judge will consider when awarding custody:
- Living Environment
The court will scrutinize the child’s home situation. There is no automatic guarantee that the parent remaining in the family home will get custody; instead, the court will consider several points when deciding which living environment is best for the child.
The home must be both suitable for a child and safe, which includes the building’s structure. There must also be no evidence of drugs or criminal activity.
The judge will also consider the proximity of parents to each other. If you live close to your soon-to-be-ex, then it is possible that the judge will order a time-sharing schedule. In these situations, children spend time with both parents on a regular basis, living in both homes.
- Essential Needs
It is imperative that parents understand exactly what the child needs: emotionally, mentally and physically. The court will consider the parent most interested and involved in the everyday life of the child for custody. In the end, the custodial parent is often the one that facilitates continued development and growth, participating in daily activities such as sports, school and doctor’s visits.
- Parental Ability
Arizona courts are not shy about investigating the parenting skills of those who are fighting for custody. They will examine the weaknesses and strengths of both you and your future ex. The judge will show an interest in your ability to cope with any special needs your child may have, such as an illness. He or she will even delve into how you handle a medical emergency or other sudden crisis.
- The Child’s Wishes
Depending on the age of your child, the court may consider his or her desires. When determining a child’s best interests, age plays a crucial role. When children are very young, the court will try to work out a regular routine, because this is paramount to a child’s overall well-being. However, older children, such as teenagers, may enjoy a more balanced upbringing if the court orders shared time with both parents.
Every child custody case is unique. Determining what is in the child’s best interest is a complicated legal matter, but there may be steps you can take to look favorably in the eyes of the judge.
A Chandler family lawyer can help you pursue a custody agreement that represents the best interests of both you and your children. Call the Zachary Law Group, PLC at 480-389-3533 for advice.