One of the most difficult situations to find yourself in is asking the question, how do I get custody of my kids? This may be because you are in the midst of a contested divorce, broke up with a significant other, or discovered something bad about your child’s living situation. No matter what the reason, there are some specific rules you must abide by to make sure that you do not make yourself look bad in the eyes of the court. Obviously, contacting a child custody attorney is of utmost importance, but you should make sure that you don’t damage your chances of success.
Understanding the “Best Interests of the Child” Standard
The court looks to make its decision on which party should get custody of the children by determining what is in the children’s best interests. This means a number of things, such as:
- The wishes and feelings of the child, based on their age and maturity;
- The emotional, physical and educational needs of the child;
- The possible effect on any change in the child’s circumstances;
- Anything that has harmed or could harm the child now or in the future;
- How capable each parent is of raising the child
These factors are not all inclusive, but they comprise the most important factors to guard against to get the custody of your children.
What Are the Practical Things to Consider Here?
If your child is over the age of 10 years old, a guardian ad litem or counselor may interview the child and provide the court an assessment of what the child’s wishes and needs are based on their own understanding. Because a child may have been living with one parent for a long time individually, courts frequently do not like to change the child’s living situation unless there is a serious reason to do. This is where you must demonstrate that you are capable of raising your child the right way while demonstrating that the other parent is not capable or has made serious mistakes, endangering the life or well-being of the child.
What is the First Step?
The first step is speaking to a child custody attorney that knows the right steps to get custody of your kids. Having an understanding of the best interests of the child, which the courts use as a way gauge who should have custody of your children. Paying attention and putting your best step forward by preparing for a custody battle is oftentimes the most important step of all to get custody of your kids.