Determining the Custodial Parent in a Joint Custody Case

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Divorce is devastating when it is amicable and no children are involved. Add children in the mix and the process becomes complicated, emotionally-charged, confusing and, in some cases, even hostile. Some children become pawns, parents stop talking to each other, and the entire situation seems hopeless. One way to avoid much of the unpleasantness is to hire an established law firm for representation. This reduces stress levels and makes the process more bearable.

Leave Negotiation to the Lawyer

A lawyer will know how the laws work in the state, can explain the process in detail, and eliminate some of the panic and fear parents are feeling. Professional lawyers are able to be objective and keep a clear head because they are not emotionally involved in the marriage. While parents sometimes feel the world is crashing down around them, the lawyer is having another day at work. That is not to say the lawyer does not care, it simply means the lawyer can reach the crux of the situation and represent clients.

Factors in Determining the Custodial Parent

The goal in selecting a custodial parent is to act in the best interests of the child or children. There is plenty of room for interpretation in the guidelines, which is another reason to hire a lawyer. The ability to take proper care of a child, for example, includes providing adequate food and housing, making sure clothing is clean, keeping the child out of danger, and providing stability. Past conduct is also an important factor. If one parent has a history of domestic abuse, it is not likely the child will be sent to live with that parent.

Child Preference

The child is evaluated, assessed, and asked specific questions aimed at understanding how the child views the current situation. The direct question of who the child wants to live with is asked. Depending on the age and capacity of the child, the answer is taken into consideration accordingly. This is all done via child psychologists, experienced behaviorists, and independent activities aimed at learning what the child is really thinking. Deciding on Joint custody is the easy part, but selecting a custodial parent is a bit more complicated.