This 20 part series tracks what Judges consider when making child custody determinations to help parents focus on what is relevant to effectively present their divorce, paternity or modification case.
Factor #3: Judges need to consider the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
First, consider what your child needs. Children have the basic needs of shelter, food, clothing and medical care. Children also need security to feel safe and sound, stability so that they feel a sense of belonging and familiarity, emotional support to boost their self-esteem, unconditional love, a parent who is an educator, a parent who is a positive role model, and structure in their lives with a parent with sets rules, boundaries and consequences. In addition, every child has his or her own individual needs. A child may be an avid baseball player and have a need to play catch with his or her parent.
To organize a child custody case, prepare a journal that includes examples of your child’s needs and how you as a parent fulfill those needs. Track the actions of your child’s other parent and whether they meet your child’s needs. If your child is afraid of the dark, did you or the other parent do something to help the situation such as plugging in a night light?
Children take time and lots of energy. One of the most special parts of being a parent is to form a loving bond with your child. That bond is often formed through lots of interactions. Many times parents set their own desires aside to put their child’s needs first. A child’s soccer game should come before a parent’s manicure appointment. A parent should spend quality time with their child on a Saturday afternoon rather than going out with their buddies and leaving the child in the background to play on their electronic device.
During a divorce or paternity action, one parent is often angry with the other parent. Regardless, your child is part of the other parent and often children are hurt if you demean, belittle, criticize or disparage the other parent in their presence. Put your child’s needs first and hold your tongue or any body language in reference to negative thoughts of your child’s other parent.
Judges in child custody cases focus on entering a ruling that will best suit the child’s needs and not the needs of a parent. When organizing your evidence consider the case through the eyes of your child.
To read this series from the beginning, see Part I Factors that Judges Consider for Child Custody Determinations.