It is not unusual for parents to walk out of a custody trial feeling they have lost more than they gained. This is because when it comes to the custody of a child it is not about the wants or needs of the parents, but rather what is in the best interest of the child.
The judge will determine the best interest of the child by evaluating the following factors in relation to the child and the child’s mother and father. Additionally, the judge can consider any other factor that is important to making a custody decision.
1. The ability of each parent to facilitate a close parent-child relationship, to abide by the timesharing schedule and to be flexible when changes are required.
2. After trial, what will the responsibilities of each parent be in reference to the child and to what extent will those responsibilities be delegated to others.
3. The ability of each parent to consider and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to their own interest.
4. The length of time the child has lived with either parent in a stable environment and desirability to maintain that situation.
5. The amount of time and distance school-age children will have to travel to spend time with their mother and father.
6. The moral fitness of the parents and how any issues of moral fitness will affect the child.
7. The mental and physical health of the parents and how this may affect the child.
8. The home, school and community record of the child.
9. The reasonable preference of the child of where he or she wishes to live, but only if the court deems the child is of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference.
10. The ability of the parents to provide a consistent routine for the child in relation to the child’s homework, meals and bedtime.
11. Evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or child neglect.
Above all else, put your child first, in other words what is in your child best interest.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on your child’s best interest then you must be totally prepared to litigate your child’s custody. Total preparation includes emotional preparation, preparation with your attorney and financial preparation.
Please feel free to check out our areas of practice regarding child custody, child custody modification, and family law. For immediate assistance, please call our Jacksonville office at: (904) 359-9060 for a free consultation.