In any family law case that involves minor children, that is children under the age of eighteen, the court will base its decisions as to custody on what is called the best interests of the children. This means that regardless of what may be convenient for the parents; any final judgment addressing custody of children must be in line with the best interests of the children.
State statues contain a list of factors that family court judges are to use when deciding child custody cases. There are many of these factors and for the most part they address the ability of the parents to place the children first, to provide for the safety of the children, to promote the child’s relationship with the other parent, and to shield the child from any ongoing litigation whether it be a divorce case or other type of family law cause of action.
In any given child custody case; even where the parents have reached an agreement as to the parenting time with the child and other issues the family court judge must still sign off on the final judgment in order for the agreement to become part of a court order. If the judge, in his or her discretion, does not believe the proposed plan for parenting in in the best interests of the child then he or she may refuse to order the plan and direct the parties back to mediation in order to rework the proposed final judgment.
Historically, child custody cases use to weigh heavily in favor of mothers and very little parenting time, parental responsibility, or decision making authority went to fathers. Time has changed this view, however, as more and more jurisdictions are beginning to recognize the fact that having both parents play an active role in the parenting of a child is usually in the best interests of the child.
Similarly, where fathers historically were given small percentages of overnight parenting time today many family law courts favor plans for parenting that include joint or shared custody with each parent having equal parenting time with the child. Though this concept of 50/50 custody seems to be catching on quickly, it is not yet the standard. This custody scheme is found most often in high population metro jurisdictions versus smaller communities where mothers are still favored as a majority time-sharing parent.
Regardless of where one lives it is of vital importance that parties to child custody cases be represented by a child custody attorney who understands this dynamic and is able to fine tune a strategy with all these factors in mind. This is the best way for a party to a custody case to ensure that he or she is in the best position to receive a favorable outcome for them and their family.
This Guest blog post is written by Sean Smallwood, ESQ.
Click the following link if you would like information on How to Get Custody of a Child in Arizona.
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