As a father, you hope for nothing more than to spend time with your kids. You and your spouse are getting divorced, but you don’t want that to essentially be the end of your time with them. You want to stay involved. You want to see them grow and develop. You want that relationship to stay strong.
You’re dedicated to fighting for your custody rights when this gets to court. As such, you want to know what factors the court is going to consider.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list since every case is different, below are six things that courts may consider. Think carefully about how they could impact you, your ex and your kids.
- Relationship quality. How strong is the bond between you and your kids already? Are you the type of father who spends as much time with his children as he can, or do you mostly spend your time at the office and with your own friends? A high-quality relationship shows the court that they should try to preserve it.
- The age of the kids. What do they need that is age-specific? Is it better for them to have consistency? Often, courts do prefer a consistent set-up with younger kids and will be more open to creative solutions with older kids.
- Health. This includes the kids’ health, but don’t forget about your own physical and mental health, and that of your ex. Can you take care of the kids? Can you offer them a safe and healthy home to grow up in?
- Living situations. Kids need a stable living situation and a home that provides them with a healthy upbringing, and the physical building does matter. This isn’t to say that money solves everything or that a parent who can afford a nicer house deserves more time with the kids, but your home may get checked to make sure it’s safe for children.
- Local attachments. The courts look at more than just you and your ex. For instance, if the kids would have to switch schools to live with you, that doesn’t help you. Kids get attached to peer groups, sports teams, schools, religious groups and much more. It’s preferable not to disrupt that.
- What the kids want. This often carries more weight the older the kids get. If they express a strong desire to live with you or not to live with you, that could turn into a key point in the case.
Each case is unique. There is no set formula that applies all of the time. The court examines all of the details they can find to decide what is in the best interests of the children. It’s critical to know your rights and how these things work together.