One of the biggest reasons that women stay in relationships they are not happy with is their children. Worrying about how it will affect them and who will get custody are valid concerns. When you have a toddler at home this concern can be even greater. Many fathers leave early childhood up to the mother which means they don’t have much experience in caring for their younger child. This makes it especially frightening to imagine your child having to spend extended time away from you.
Being obligated to agree to joint custody with your child’s father is dependent on a lot of different factors. To feel more comfortable with how your custody situation may work out, it is important to consider these factors and prepare yourself for whatever the outcome may be.
Factors that affect custody decisions
While custody is ultimately decided on a case by case basis, there are some standard considerations that a judge will look at when making their decision. Though you may not feel that joint custody is a good idea, the family court may disagree. In recent years, more consideration is given to fathers than it was in the past due to an influx of dads feeling left out of their child’s life. However, even though fathers are given consideration, there are larger factors that will affect the decision.
Fathers desire for custody
If a father makes it a point to show up to everything regarding the decision of custody and seems to have the child’s best interest in mind, they would be more likely to be considered for joint custody. Sadly, there are many fathers who do not wish to put forth the effort to be a part of their child’s life. If your child’s father falls into this category, the chances of them granting any kind of custody would be slim.
Competency of each parent
Just as there are unfit fathers, there are unfit mothers. Just because, generally, women are thought to be more nurturing and make better caregivers does not mean that is always the case. Also, a father showing an interest in his child does not automatically make him a great parent. If a parent does not have the proper means to provide shelter, clothing, food and other basic reasonable necessities it would be difficult to grant extended custody. In addition to physical needs, a parent should be able to provide the attention and care needed. Financial support is something that can be worked out, but if a parent is emotionally unavailable there is not much to be done to change that. A judge will weigh these factors while looking at both parents to make the decision that is in the best interest of the child.
History of abuse
If there is a history of abuse in your marriage, especially if an order of protection is filed, the chance of the abuser getting joint custody is nil in most cases. Even if the abuse was not directed toward the child, placing a child in a home with someone who has documented abusive behavior or anger management issues would not be in the best interest of the child.
In addition, if you have filed an order of protection or protection from abuse order against your spouse, joint custody would be deemed impossible. These orders make it so that the abuser cannot contact the abused in any way, which means any parenting decisions would be difficult to make.
It can be frightening to imagine having to share your child’s time with someone who you no longer wish to be involved with. It is important, however, to remember that marital issues and parental issues should be separated. Disagreements among parents do not change the fact that if a child’s father wants to be a part of their life and the situation is a healthy one, then sharing custody can be the best solution for everyone involved.