This is a difficult question to answer, as much of the outcome is driven by the specific facts of your case. However, by educating yourself a little bit about the law, you can gain a better understanding of what the court is going to consider when it looks at your child custody dispute and tries to render a proper ruling.
Best interest factors
In short, the court is going to assess what sort of outcome supports your child’s best interests. That may sound like a nebulous phrase, and it is. While there are some statutorily identified factors that will be taken into consideration, the court can really consider any fact that it deems relevant to its determination. These include:
- The child’s bond with each parent
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Each parent’s proximity to other family members
- How a certain custody outcome will affect the child’s schooling
- Each parent’s willingness to foster a relationship between the child and their other parent
- The existence of any domestic violence or substance abuse
As you can see, there’s a lot that the court can take into account. Even your child’s own wishes may play a role in the judge’s determination. With so much on the line, you have to know how to address these factors if you want to be able to ensure the best outcome possible for your child.
Building evidence for your custody case
If you and your child’s other parent can’t come to an agreement on a custody arrangement and are thereby forced to argue the matter in court, then you need to be prepared with evidence to support your position. But how do you do that? You may want to turn to the following places for help:
- Your child’s statements: You don’t want to interrogate your child, but you should pay close attention to what they say. Not only could this provide valuable insight into the custody arrangement that your child wants, but it can also give you clues as to what life looks like with the other parent. This may include information about domestic violence, substance abuse, or even abuse and neglect.
- Medical and mental health records: These records pertaining to your child can help demonstrate your child’s needs, which you can then argue that you’re better suited to meet. You can also try to obtain these records pertaining to the other parent, which will show if there are any challenges the other parent is facing that may limit their ability to appropriately care for your child.
- Social media: Social media posts can provide a wealth of information. These posts may show that your child’s other parent excessively parties and engages in substance use that may be harmful to your child, or it might show that the other parent has no interest in co-parenting with you and will likely keep the child from you if they are granted physical custody.
There are, of course, other ways to gather the evidence that you need to present your case. Just make sure that you’re keeping your eyes and ears open for anything that may speak to the statutory best interest factors.
Don’t leave your custody dispute to chance
If you’re unprepared going into your custody dispute, then you may end up facing an outcome that you never wanted. While this can be harmful to your relationship with your child and minimize your contact with them, it can also be hurtful to your child.
With that in mind, you should do everything you can to build a robust legal argument in your custody case. To learn more about what that looks like and how an attorney may be able to help you do that, you may want to consider reaching out to a legal professional who knows how to formulate persuasive best interest arguments.