Karp & Iancu S.C. explains the factors a court or Guardian ad Litem considers when determining placement and custody of a child and helps you understand which factors might be most important in your case. From the concept of joint decision-making to the goal of maximizing time with each parent, keep reading to learn how custody and placement are decided and what you can do to influence that decision.
Custody and placement arrangements are among the most important things a judge can determine. Because of that, a judge would prefer not to determine them at all. Judges almost universally agree that parents are best situated to decide how to share parenting decisions and parenting time. Parents know their children’s history, routines, and unique idiosyncrasies. Judges know none of these things and learn them only through the evidence presented in court.
However, there are laws in place to guide judges in making such decisions and to help them prioritize considerations that are in the children’s best interests. By examining the factors prescribed by law, a judge can substitute his judgment for that of parents who have abdicated their responsibility for decision-making due to their inability to agree on what is best for their children. Having a judge decide is usually never best for a family. Nonetheless, it is sometimes necessary. If your case is headed in that direction or you fear a judge will have to get involved—how will a judge decide your children’s custody and placement arrangements?
The court has to start by assuming certain things under the law: (1) that joint legal custody is in children’s best interests, and (2) a parent who has engaged in a pattern or serious incident of interspousal battery should not have custody.
These presumptions are “rebuttable.” That means that although a court must start from those presumptions, a party can present evidence to prove they are not true in their particular case.
There are also some presumptions a court must accept regarding placement. For example, a court must:
While keeping the foregoing presumptions in mind, the court must then analyze the evidence in the context of the following factors to determine what kind of custody and placement arrangements are best for a child:
As you can see, the court must weigh many factors. Some will be more important than others and some may not be relevant at all. Nonetheless, the judge must listen to all the facts presented and view all the evidence with an eye toward satisfying his obligations to consider all of the foregoing factors—keeping in mind some of things that may be most important to you as a parent, may not be most important to the judge.
To discuss these factors in more detail or to learn what kinds of factors might be most important to the judge in your case, please call us to arrange a 100% confidential, no-hassle consultation.
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