While it is preferable for parents to reach an agreement on child custody, sometimes it is necessary to have a child custody trial because the parties are at an impasse or one parent believes the other parent should not have custody for good reasons. (i.e., such as one parent has harmed the child in the past or puts the child at risk or there has been domestic violence in the home)
When a custody trial is necessary, the judge will award custody based on what the judge believes is in the “best interest” of the child.
Some of the factors judges may consider in child custody proceedings that relate to the “best interests of a child” include:
- the needs of the child and each parents’ respective ability to meet those needs;
- the child’s relationship and bond with each parent;
- the child’s relationship and bond with any siblings or other children or relatives in each parents’ respective households;
- the parents’ ability to co-parent and work together on child related issues;
- the work schedules of each parent and their availability to care for the child and spend time with the child;
- how well the child performs under the care of each parent, including physically, emotionally, academically and socially;
- the parenting styles of each parent, including disciplinary practices;
- alcohol or drug abuse by either parent that may impact the child;
- whether either parent has engaged in acts of domestic violence;
- living conditions in a parent’s home that may impact the child’s well-being, for better or worse; and
- the child’s wishes regarding custody if the child is of sufficient age to exercise discretion.
Judges have broad discretion in child custody matters. It is vital for a parent seeking custody to have an advocate who is a skilled trial attorney who is experienced in custody trials and knows what factors are going to be important to the judge. It is also essential that the parent seeking custody have a zealous advocate who understands the high stakes involved in custody trials.
Daphne Edwards is skilled trial attorney who has experience litigating custody cases. She is a zealous advocate for her client and will fight for her client to get the custody schedule he or she desires and believes is in the best interest of the child. Find out more about Daphne at her website.
This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.