Everyone enters a marriage with the best intentions. You plan to spend the rest of your life with someone and start a family with them. However, things sometimes work out differently than you planned them. Many couples still go their separate ways even after having children. So, what happens to the child during a divorce? Find out about contested custody to determine who will win the child custody battle.
Overview of Child Custody
The court will arrange the child custody in a divorce case based on various factors surrounding the case. The court will use any evidence presented in the divorce case to determine what is best for the child. Therefore, the court will assess several factors to determine either parent’s capabilities to support the child, so it varies from divorce to divorce.
There are two types of child custody in a divorce: sole and joint custody. A sole custody is awarded to the spouse who can provide support and care for the child. The other spouse will have visitation rights for the child.
On the other hand, joint custody is when both parents have shown they can provide for and care for the child. The court will grant joint custody, enabling both spouses to spend equal time with the child. For example, one parent gets custody of a child three days a week while the other gets the rest of the week.
What is a Contested Custody?
Now that you understand what child custody means, let’s explore what a contested custody means. A contested child custody case is emotionally draining and involves a significant financial investment.
You and your former spouse must discuss how child custody works in your divorce. But if you cannot agree on the best child custody terms (or if one spouse believes they have more right to child custody), it could be grounds for a contested divorce.
When you have a contested divorce, both spouses cannot agree on divorce-related issues, and child custody is likely one of them. There are differences in the law for each state regarding child custody in a contested divorce, so you need an experienced contested divorce attorney to provide legal advice.
How is the Contested Custody Decided?
The most important thing you must know when you enter a contested custody battle is how the custody is determined. First, children who are aged 14 and above have the option to choose which parent they want to live with. While the judge can still make the final decision, the child’s selection can be a factor in deciding the child custody in a contested divorce. The judge will always defer to the child’s wishes, but since each divorce situation is unique, they must consider other factors in the decision. The goal of the judge is to preserve the child’s best interest.
Another reason why the court will step in (even if there is a child custody selection in effect) is to promote a healthy relationship for the child with both parents. Therefore, the ideal scenario for the court is to ensure that both parents can have equal time with the child or an equal parenting schedule. The court would never limit the parenting time for one of the parties except when the following scenarios apply:
- If one of the parents lives out of state
- If one of the parents’ work schedules prevents frequent visitation
- If one of the parents has a history of abusive behavior toward the child
Given the above conditions, the court will decide who wins the contested custody battle based on which parent can demonstrate their ability to support and care for the child while ensuring their safety. Each parent will undergo an interview with the judge to assess their capability to provide for the child. They will assess the following factors when making the decision:
- Mental and emotional health of the parent
- Financial capacity
- Stable living arrangement
- History of physical violence or abuse (if any)
- The parent’s motive for requesting custody
- Child’s relationship with extended family members
In addition to the above list, the parent demonstrating the best relationship with the child will win the contested custody battle.
If you need help approaching this case or want to improve your chances of having custody of your child, be sure to speak with an experienced attorney specializing in child custody cases. They can assist you in the legal matters supporting your case and winning your child custody rights.