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Factors Judges Consider for Child Custody Determinations - Part 1

This 20 part series tracks the roadmap that Judges are required to consider when making child custody and parenting plan determinations to help parents focus on what is relevant to the Judge to effectively present their divorce, paternity or modification case to the Court.

Factor #1: The Judge needs to consider the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship, to honor the time-sharing schedule, and to be reasonable when changes are required.

The Court desires that you demonstrate that you love your child more than you hate or dislike the other parent of your child. The point is to show the Judge that you are capable of putting the needs of your child first. If the other parent is not capable of doing so, then document the other parent's actions in a journal so that you do not forget...

As long as there is not abuse, abandonment or neglect that puts the child's welfare at risk, the Court desires that the parent with a substantial amount of timeshare be the parent that will make the child comfortable having a loving relationship with the other parent. For example, which parent picks out a Mother's or Father's Day card for the other parent with the child? Does either parent roll his or her eyes if mention is made of the other parent by the child or someone else in the presence of the child?

If there is a Court ordered parenting schedule and you have problems with the other parent not honoring the schedule, designate a separate calendar to mark when the other parent fails to comply with the visitation schedule in short precise terms. It often takes a long time to obtain a final trial date in contested child custody cases. The calendar can be useful to assist you with remembering what happened so you can proficiently provide this information to the Judge.

Since life happens, it can sometimes be difficult to stick with a precise visitation schedule. Since Courts cannot predict every future circumstance, Judges desire that the parents act like responsible individuals and be flexible when it is warranted. If a parent expects the other parent to continuously change the visitation schedule to hang out with friends, then the parent may be unreasonable putting their own needs above the needs of the child. However, if a parent is requesting to change a visitation schedule because the parent was in a car accident and recuperating after surgery and the other parent is available, it can be a reasonable request.

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