“Best Interest” of the Child
As mentioned above, judges must determine custody and visitation according to the “best interest of the child.” This includes factors like:
- the child’s age;
- the child’s health;
- the emotional ties between the parents and the child;
- the ability of the parents to care for the child;
- any history of family violence or substance abuse; and
- the child’s ties to school, home, and their community.
In most cases, parents can make their own agreements for custody and visitation without the court’s influence, though the final agreement must be approved by the court. If the parents cannot agree, though, the judge will likely order the couple to mediation with a mediator from Family Court Services to facilitate the discussion. If the parents cannot agree in mediation, they will meet with the judge who will make the final custody and visitation decision. So, parents should seek to negotiate between themselves or in mediation if they do not wish to default to a court decision. An attorney can better help streamline the negotiation process and ensure the parent’s rights are protected.
Contact Attorney Joyce Komanapalli Jones Today
If you are currently involved in a custody battle, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced custody and visitation lawyer immediately. The outcome of your custody order will depend on the best interests of the child evaluated by the court. An experienced legal professional like Attorney Joyce Komanapalli Jones can examine the facts of your situation and ensure your parental rights are not being encroached upon in negotiation with your spouse or in trial. It is best to have a lawyer beside you whether you negotiate individually with your spouse, in mediation, or before a judge.