Child Custody And The Best Interests Of The Child-- What This Really Means
Not many people in Hollywood were surprised when Halle Berry filed for divorce from Oliver Martinez. However, there was something in the petition that did raise a few eyebrows. After putting up a custody fight with her ex, Gabriel Aubry, for their daughter, Nahla, many people were surprised that Ms. Berry did not ask for sole or even joint custody of her son, Maceo. Instead, she asked for whatever the court deemed to be in the best interests of the child. This is not a very common request, and as such, you may have many questions about what this means, especially if you are preparing to obtain a court-ordered custody agreement. Here are some questions you may be wondering about courts and the best interest of a child.
Why Would a Petitioner Not Ask for Sole or Joint Custody?
If you are preparing to file for child custody, you may be ready to ask for the exact type of custody you are after. You may want sole custody, where you have your child the majority of the time and are responsible for all legal, medical and physical decisions in regards to the child. Or you may want joint custody, where you share custody with the other parent and both help to make decisions in regards to the child. However, you can also ask the courts to grant you custody based on what they feel is in the best interests of the child. There are many reasons why you or the child's other parent may ask for this instead of specifying what type of custody is specifically wanted.
One of the most common reasons why you may decide to ask for a custody arrangement that the courts feel is in the best interests of the child is because you do want what is best for your child and are unsure what agreement makes the most sense for your situation. The courts can help you and the child's other parent figure this out and grant an arrangement that has your child's best interest at heart. Another reason you may ask for this is because you are trying to keep things civil and fair with your child's other parent. If you ask for sole custody, things may quickly spiral from civil to heated. If you truly feel your child is best with you, and feel the courts will see it that way, you may ask the courts to make that decision without you specifically asking for it so that things remain civil with your child's other parent.
How Does a Court Determine What the Best Interests of the Child Are?
Should you request the courts to determine what the bests interests of the child are when it comes to a custody agreement, they determine custody based on many factors. Many of these factors are the same factors that are used when parents disagree on custody arrangements. Some of these factors include:
- the stability of both parents
- the mental health of both parents
- the wishes of the child, depending on their age
- what the current living situation already is and how well that's working
- the past criminal history of either parent
- any concerns either parent has in regards to the other including anger issues or excessive discipline
What Happens If a Custodial Parent Disagrees With the Courts?
If you ask the courts to issue a child custody agreement based on the best interests of the child, you are taking a slight risk that you may not like the outcome or agree with it. Fortunately, the agreement can be contested or changed if need be. However, there need to be circumstances that are affecting the child in order to make these changes. You can't simply ask the courts to reconsider because you are unhappy with the order. If the child's grades start slipping, if the child seems unhappy, if the other parent isn't sticking to the order, if the other parents behavior drastically changes, or if they are looking to move far away, you can request a child custody hearing which can change the order, if the courts so decide.
If you are getting ready to obtain a custody order through the courts, and you are unable to come to an agreement with the child's other parent as to a fair arrangement, you need to know what your options are. You have the option of requesting full custody, joint custody, partial custody or asking the court to consider the best interests of the child and make a decision. If you are unsure which option is right for your situation, consider consulting with a family attorney, like those at Karp Law Offices. They can explain all of your options and help you come to the decision that makes the most sense for your particular situation.