Divorce can be a difficult time for couples. The decision to give up and divorce is stressful enough on it’s own. When you add children to the equation, it becomes a bit more complicated. Here, we answer the question of who gets custody of the baby.
The court’s decision
When a judge is deciding who to give custody to or whether custody will be shared, there are several factors that must be taken into consideration. He will thoroughly pour over details of whether one parent or even both are unfit in some way to care for the baby. For example, if a parent is abusive or leads a dangerous lifestyle, this is a bad situation for the child. It is best if a child can spend some time with both parents, but the judge will make his determination based on what is best for the child.
Typically, the judge will want to keep the child with the parent who has been the child’s primary caretaker. Most of the time, this is the mother. This is not always the case. If the mother is the primary caretaker, the husband must prove that the mother is unfit in some way to care for the child.
If a parent has a history of illness such as bi-polar disorder or depression, this will be considered. If the parent can prove with medical records signed by a doctor that the condition is being treated and under control, this will probably not affect that parent’s custody rights.
The difference between joint and sole custody
Beginning in January of 2016, parents are given decision making rights and allocated time with the child by the judge. The parents must submit a plan of action for the child’s care within 120 days of the start of the case. If a plan can’t be agreed upon, the judge will decide.
For a parent to retain sole custody, there must be extenuating circumstances. The other parent must be proven unfit beyond a shadow of a doubt such as possibly putting the child in danger.
Custody if the parents aren’t married
The regulations for custody are no different for parents who are not married. The case is decided in the same manner.
If the parents married after the baby’s birth, the fact remains. The judge will not consider marriage either way. He’ll only look at the best situation for the child. It is generally best for the child to spend some time with both parents unless one is found unfit.
Living situation and custody
Living arrangements can affect the outcome of custody. For instance, if a parent is living with their parents, the judge may consider this better because of the extra family support and someone familiar to watch the child. Each person in the household will be checked to ensure they are a good benefit to the child.
Preparing for your case
The first thing you should do is find a good attorney to help you maximize your chances and prepare. Keep a journal documenting everything you do for your child daily. IF you can remember, document the past year of what you’ve done for the child. Also try and document what the other parent has or hasn’t done for the child. Continue keeping this until your court date. Have sufficient school and child care, and get statements from any community members who can vouch for you. If there are issues with the other parent, get statements for that, as well.
Having a good attorney is important when dealing with child custody. He knows the laws and can help get you prepared. If you are in this situation, give us a call. We will help you to get the best outcome for your child.