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What Do Judges Look For In Child Custody Cases?

Determining when each parent gets time with their children and how much is allotted to each can be an emotional and stressful situation for both children and parents alike. Usually, parents want to be with their children as much as possible and children want to spend time with both of their parents as well. Making sure that the children’s best interests are at the heart of a child custody decision is critical, so getting the right arrangement is paramount. Part of working towards an agreeable decision in child custody cases is understanding how a judge will view a case and what factors will be used in making a final decision. Child custody is one of the more emotional and distressing aspects of a divided family. A Littleton, CO, child custody attorney at the Colorado Divorce Law Group can help parents work through the process. For more information, parents facing an upcoming child custody decision can call (720) 593-6442 to learn more.

Do Mothers Always Get More Favorable Child Custody Agreements?

Many people hold the common belief that simply being a mother grants certain rights when it comes to deciding who keeps custody of children or who gets the most favorable agreement. However, Colorado child custody laws enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado indicate that it is unlawful for a court to discriminate on the basis of a parent’s sex when determining child custody. Ultimately, the elements that are considered in drafting a child custody order are those that a judge believes will be the most healthful and fitting situation for the children.

Both national statistics and popular wisdom can cause fathers to be less than optimistic about their rights to their children. This is understandable. There are several factors that influence the statistics that cannot be ignored. Fathers are awarded custody in less than 20% of custody cases. Gendered social norms regarding parenting and identity may be partly responsible: A study out of the Pew Research Center says that 35% of mothers believe being a parent is the most important part of their identity, compared to just 24% of fathers. On the other hand, that same study indicated that the percentage of fathers to mothers who find parenting to be both enjoyable and rewarding is fairly equal.

Top Elements Judges Use In Determining Child Custody

Statistics aside, every case is different, as are the family circumstances when evaluating what will be the most beneficial custody situation for children. Due to the serious nature of child custody cases, parents who need support and assistance may find it helpful to call on an attorney at the Colorado Divorce Law Group.

The Colorado Judicial Branch provides information for parents on child custody that could be beneficial to review. However, when it comes to the fundamentals of a real-time child custody hearing, what a parent may not find on the court’s website are the motivations and reasoning behind what forms a judge’s assessment and final decision. Here are some of the primary facts a judge typically examines when deciding custody.

A Child’s Age

Younger children and infants are generally believed to fare better in their development when they have as much time with both parents as possible. Keeping both parents in the life of a young child with frequent visits is therefore understood to be important. Plus, younger children need more support, assistance, and guidance from their parents as they are not yet becoming independent. Older children, often assessed from ages 12 and up, will be more flexible with custody and a judge may even solicit the child’s opinion on where they want to stay as a part of decision-making.

Children’s Relationships With Their Parents

A judge may award more time to a parent that has a stronger bond with their child, although this is not always the case. In some situations, a judge may find it better for a child with a strong bond with one parent to spend time with the other parent to develop that relationship in an attempt to achieve greater balance.

Mental and Physical Health of Parents

If one parent is suffering from a severe mental illness whose symptoms could interfere with the parent’s ability to make rational and sound decisions or pose a safety risk for children, the judge may take this medical condition into consideration. A parent that would present an unstable or unhealthy environment due to questionable behavior, a mental health affliction, a drug addiction, or any other impediment may not get the most time in their child custody case. Likewise, a parent who has a chronic illness may also have a more challenging time caring for their children alone, and this could affect custody.

The Scope of a Parent’s Capacity to Take Care of Their Children

In some situations, a parent may not have the financial means to have full custody of a child or have the child the majority of the time. Especially, if there are no other options for outside help and support like, from a family member, this can impact a custody decision. On the other hand, perhaps a parent earns sufficient income, but has a schedule so busy they cannot be relied on for regular transportation to school and activities, or to be at home with the child. This scenario, too, has to be evaluated.

The Location Where Siblings Reside

In some situations, safety issues or other factors might warrant a judge to separate siblings’ residences. In general, however, keeping all children together is usually favored.

Call Today for a Free Consultation With a Colorado Child Custody Attorney

Child custody can be one of the most difficult legal challenges to navigate after divorce. There are several factors that judges incorporate into their decision-making process when deciding child custody cases. In addition to traditional custody arrangements, a judge may consider creative approaches and plans that stand to benefit the child and build upon the unique makeup of the family. In the end, though, a judge will be using their best instincts and experience to devise the arrangement they consider to be the plan most suitable for the child. For assistance, a Colorado child custody lawyer at the Colorado Divorce Law Group can meet with you during a free consultation to go over your case. Call (720) 593-6442 today to schedule an appointment to review your family’s unique situation.