If you and your former spouse cannot agree on what is best for your minor child, the family court will be forced to step in and make the decision for you. While it is always best for parents to get along well enough to work issues like this out before going to court, sometimes a judge's decision is necessary. Judges use several factors to determine who should get custody, but chief among those factors is the "best interest of the child" guideline. A good understanding of what this means to your child custody case is vital, so read on to learn more and be prepared for the outcome.
Even when you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody, the judge takes a careful look at how well you can function together to make any custody agreement work. A key indicator of good parenting is how likely that parent is to foster a good relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. Parents who resort to name-calling, dramatic emotional outbursts, and manipulation don't win any points with the judge. Judges are instead looking for a mature, thoughtful, and emotionally well-balanced parent to take physical custody of the child. Judges often gravitate toward the more level-headed parent, assuming that parent will be more likely to take the best interest of the child into consideration.
The Family Home
While it may not seem fair, the parent who retains the family home is often given more consideration over the other parent. Divorces are extremely disruptive to children, and moving from a familiar home and neighborhood only adds to the burden that child must bear. For the parent not awarded the home or if both parents are leaving that home, ensure that the new home is safe and appropriate for your child. While a friend's offer to let you sleep on their couch may save you some money, it is not very likely to be appropriate for your child.
Age of the Child
In the past, babies and young children were almost always placed with their mothers. Nowadays, however, judges no longer routinely place those children with the mother, since both parents are more likely to work outside the home and gender stereotypes about who makes a better parent have largely disappeared. That said, the statistics still demonstrate a bias against placing children with fathers.
Consult with your divorce attorney for more information about how child custody is decided and to ensure that you understand how using the "best interest of the child" edict can lead to a successful custody bid. Go to sites like this for more information.