Custody battles can be long, drawn-out processes, and all the while, you’ll be struggling with the stress of uncertainty over whether or not your child will get to live with you. While there are always some unseen variables that may affect a judge’s decision, and some evidence you may not be aware of, there are some general factors that go into determining the winner of a custody battle. If you know you’ve got all of them, you can rest comfortably knowing you have an enormous chance of winning custody.
Factors for Winning a Custody Battle
These are the eight most important factors in determining guardianship over a child:
- Good representation. According to Divorce & Custody Attorney Seth Shich, “Even with a solid case and good standing with the child, it’s important to have legal expertise on your side.” Finding a good lawyer is a critical step in any custody battle, even if you have all of the other factors on this list on your side. Technicalities can be exploited and details can be overlooked; don’t take the chance of losing custody due to poor representation.
- A healthy standing relationship with the child. The quality of your current relationship with the child is going to be scrutinized. Do you make time to play with them? Do you know their likes and interests, and have a vested interest in their development? Generally, the closer parent to the child will always have the edge in custody battles, for obvious reasons.
- No history of abuse or neglect. If there’s any history of abuse or neglect, your chances of winning the custody battle are pretty much over. Any form of physical abuse and most forms of emotional abuse, either to the child or to the spouse, will not be tolerated. In cases where both parents seem abusive or neglectful, custody of the child may be left to another family member or a separate authority.
- Employment demonstrates a parent’s ability to take financial responsibility for the child and also demonstrates their stability in everyday life. With a consistent history of employment and a reasonable salary, you’ll stand a much better chance of winning custody of the child.
- Custodial preference. Custodial preference, or in other words the child’s preference of guardianship, is almost always taken into account in the court’s decision. In some cases, the child may be asked directly what their preference is. In others, circumstantial evidence or eyewitness testimonies may be used to establish the preference here.
- Physical and mental health. Though not always necessary, being in good physical and mental health can increase your chances of winning custody. If your spouse, for example, is unable to take care of themselves, you’d instantly appear to be a better parent by comparison.
- Positive familial relationships. Most courts consider the child’s extended family in addition to purely parental relationships. Having positive relationships with your own parents, siblings, cousins, and other family members can demonstrate that you can give your child a better overall environment for growing up.
- An acceptable motive. Finally, though motivation can’t always be proven, a healthy motive in seeking custody can help you demonstrate your worthiness as a parent. For example, seeking the child merely to spite your estranged spouse isn’t a good motive, but showing you truly care about your child’s future is.
Why It Still May Be Difficult
Unfortunately, even with all these factors working for you, the custody battle may still be difficult. These are just a handful of the reasons why:
- Legal frameworks. Almost any court case is difficult by sheer virtue of the complexities of our legal system. It may take weeks or months to make a determination, alongside hefty legal fees.
- If a spouse resists you, even with all these factors on your side, it may become difficult to reach an agreement in a timely or organized manner.
- Emotional factors. You’re invested heavily in the outcome of this case, along with your spouse and your children. The emotional stakes are high, and everyone will be feeling that throughout the custody battle.
Even if you’re in for a long and difficult battle, with the eight factors above on your side, you’ll have substantially good odds of winning. You may not be able to get all of them, but the more you work on yourself and your circumstances, the better you’ll fare in the proceedings.