If you’re an involved parent who’s going through divorce, there’s no doubt that arranging a favorable child custody or parenting-time plan is at the forefront of your mind. Splitting time with your child is a difficult adjustment, and most parents want to ensure that, despite their divorce, their time and relationship with their child doesn’t change drastically. The court’s primary concern is the welfare of your child, and there are a few factors they will consider when determining custody arrangements.
The Parent Who Historically Has Been and Can Continue to be a Primary Caregiver
A judge will consider which parent has been, and who’s schedule will continue to allow them to be, the primary caregiver for the child. These duties include things like feeding, bathing, transporting to school and events, making appointments—the everyday tasks that keep your child healthy emotionally, physically and socially. If one parent has a work schedule or other obligations that keeps them away from home due to long hours and thus prohibits them from being an effective or willing caregiver, the court may not see them as a suitable primary custodian. This decision is not based on the emotional desires of a parent to be a caretaker, but rather their practical ability to be available and an effective custodial parent. Of course, this doesn’t mean a parent can’t work and win sole or joint custody; rather, the court wants to see that you prioritize your child amidst other obligations, and are willing to integrate them into your schedule.
Emotional Ties Between a Child and Their Parents/ The Interest Each Parent Has Towards the Child
Which parent does the child rely on and gravitate towards for their emotional needs? The more quality time a parent spends with their child and provides for them, the more bonded a child will be to them. In line with emotional ties, the court will also consider the interest and attitude that each parent demonstrates towards the child, a factor that inevitably will affect bonding and emotional connection. How invested are you in knowing and spending time with your child? Do you know their struggles, their victories, their friends, their favorite foods, and how they’re fairing in school? Do you make consistent efforts to spend quality time with your child and provide them with a rich childhood? A judge will consider these details when determining a parent’s investment and interest.
A Parent’s Willingness to Facilitate a Healthy Relationship Between the Child and the Other Parent
Most courts will consider a parent’s ability to orchestrate a healthy and continuing relationship between their child and their ex. Remember: an unfit spouse does not equate to an unfit parent. You may not be fond of your ex, but unless there’s child abuse or domestic violence involved, it’s typically in the child’s best interest to have a thriving relationship with both parents. If you have a history of trying to sabotage that relationship or deface your child’s good opinion of your ex, the court will take note.
It’s important to remember that every child custody case differs. The outcome of your friend’s custody battle may differ from your own due to numerous varying circumstances and factors. Don’t make assumptions based other people’s experiences, and trust the system. If you’re doing everything you can to be a supportive parent and create a healthy relationship and environment by which your child can thrive, trust your attorney, such as those at Pacific Cascade Family Law, to represent and highlight your efforts—they will not go unseen. To schedule a consultation and speak with an attorney today, call our office at (503) 227-0200.