Figuring out custody arrangements with your former spouse can be stressful, even if the rest of the divorce was simple. But your Missouri family law attorney is there to help you every step of the way. Before you start scheduling child custody hearings, it’s important that you understand what judges look for when determining custody.
The Key Factors Judges Consider
Every case is unique and judges will always tailor their decisions based on what’s best for the child. But they will consider a few key factors in each decision. These include the following:
- The parents’ desires: Many parents want custody of their children, but this isn’t always the case. If one parent wants to be involved in the child’s life and the other doesn’t, the court will take this into consideration. Similarly, if both parents want to be equally involved, the court will consider that desire.
- The parents’ abilities to care for the child: The court tries to make sure the child will be adequately cared for when awarding custody. They’ll look at each parent’s ability to provide and care for their child when deciding who should have custody and in what amount.
- Any history of abuse or neglect: Parents with a history of abuse or neglect, especially toward the child in question will typically find it harder to gain custody. The court will look at your record and may adjust custody if they discover a history of abuse or neglect.
- The health of the parents: The court will also consider the overall physical and mental health of each parent. If one parent is in better health than the other, they may be better able to care for the child, and the court’s decision may reflect this.
- The child’s best interests: The court always prioritizes the child’s best interests in every custody decision, even over parental desires. If they believe one parent is better suited to primary or full custody than the other, they’ll base their decision on that.
- The child’s requests: If the child is old enough to express an opinion that is clearly their own, the court will consider what the child wants. If they would prefer to live with one parent over the other, they’ll take this into consideration.
How to Prepare for Custody Hearings
Even though the factors that the judge will consider are typically the same, there are things you can do to present your case for custody. Create a clear parenting plan that shows how and why you’re the best parent for your child to live with. Collect your financial statements to show that you earn enough income to adequately provide for your child. And follow your Missouri family law attorney’s advice as you prepare your case.
Child Custody Hearings Can Be Stressful
When the custody of your child is on the line, preparing for and navigating child custody hearings can be overwhelming. Your Missouri family law attorney is here to help. Schedule a free consultation today.