In the blink of an eye, a divorce changes everything. Two people who were formerly happily cohabitating begin living separate lives, initially bearing some emotional scars. Children begin living with one parent or spend time with each parent separately. In many cases, one spouse takes the children before custody arrangements have been finalized. What is the other parent to do if he or she wants child custody?
Just because children are currently living with one parent does not mean that the situation is permanent. The other parent can fight for joint or sole custody in divorce. Custody is not finalized until the court renders its decision, which is based on several factors. A family law attorney can help a parent make a strong case for custody of children currently residing with the other parent.
Best Interest of the Child Standard
Courts give the most weight to the best interests of the children when making custody decisions. They also consider the physical and mental health of each parent, the lifestyles of the parents, and the quality of life that the children will experience with each parent. If the children are considered old enough, the court may ask for their preferred living arrangements.
Winning child custody during divorce requires presenting oneself as the more suitable parent. Courts often focus on which parent is most likely to provide a stable living environment. However, they also consider which parent seems most likely to foster a relationship between the children and the other parent. Therefore, a parent trying to win custody in divorce should treat the other parent with respect.
When parents are focused on getting joint custody, cooperation is essential. The two individuals must show that they can get along and make decisions in the best interests of their children. Each parent should avoid a custody fight during divorce because this will affect the likelihood of sharing custody of the children. Working through their respective family lawyers is one way for parents to diffuse emotions that often arise during divorce and custody processes.
If children are living with one parent and the other is petitioning for joint or sole custody, a legal expert can be a strong ally. A family lawyer can make a case that this living arrangement is not the result of mutual agreement and may not be ideal over the long-term. This type of child custody help is what many parents need in order to receive well-deserved time with their children.