While many couples hope that they will be with their spouse forever, approximately 42% of U.S. marriages end in divorce. It is important that couples going through such a stressful time have a reliable support system in their family, friends, and legal counsel. This is especially true when there are children who will be affected by the divorce, as family law is complicated and nuanced. A trusted attorney will be able to help couples navigate their divorce with as little difficulty as possible.
When deciding which parent receives custody of the children, a number of factors are taken into consideration. When custody is determined during mediation, as 11% of cases are, it is often the parents’ decision with whom the children will live. It is far more common that the case will be seen by a judge, however, with 88.8% of custody cases established in court or through a federal agency, as reported in 2013.
While each party’s divorce attorney is tasked with advocating for their client and his or her suitability to parent their children, it is important to remember that the final situation rests with the judge. Custody lawyers do their best to show that their client is suitable as a primary caretaker through evidence of appointment-setting, skill teaching, meal preparation, and grooming and dressing the child.
In some instances, family law may allow a parent or non-parent to take total custody of the child if the other parent can be shown to be unfit. If this is the case, the judge may rule that it is in the child’s best interests to live with the more fit parent, or a non-parental family member, such as a grandparent, aunt, adult sibling, or uncle. If a non-parental relative seeks custody, it may be referred to as “guardianship.”
Overall, the important thing to remember during any custody case is to be as civil as possible. The last thing you need is to have your frustrations with your partner negatively affecting your children. If you don’t trust yourself to be kind to your spouse, ask your lawyer to communicate for you. You certainly don’t want to have to hire a criminal attorney because of harassment! By remaining civil and cooperative, you are sure to give your children the best of a difficult situation.