Child custody proceedings can be challenging for divorcing parents, and for a good reason. Parents who love and care about the well-being of their children want to make sure they have an ongoing relationship with them, and that they can continue to be part of their life as much as possible. This possibility is often threatened in child custody disputes.
For parents, one of the challenges in child custody proceedings is realizing that custody proceedings are not really about the, but about the children. Only indirectly are child custody proceedings about the interests of the parents. This can be a hard fact to come to grips with, especially since most of the other matters dealt with in divorce are directly about the interests of the parents.
Children, unlike any of the material possessions a couple might fight over in divorce, have value in and of themselves, and hence the legal system is solicitous to focus on what is best for them when determining custody and parenting time. Courts consider a variety of factors when determining what is in the best interests of children. These include:
- The willingness of each parent to cooperate in any given custody arrangement;
- The child’s need for stability and continuity of education, family life and community life;
- The child’s relationships with siblings;
- The ability of each party to meet the physical, emotional, developmental, education and special needs of the child;
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence or child abuse or neglect;
- The “well-reasoned” preferences of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and judgment.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, and how an experienced family law attorney can help provide zealous representation in child custody proceedings.