Unfortunately, divorce is just as much a reality in society as is marriage. Divorce is never pretty; however, divorce is sometimes even uglier when there are children involved. While the parents undoubtedly have their disagreements, they can agree that they both love their children.
Parents generally do not want anything to tear them from their children and will do anything to win a custody dispute. With this in mind, it is important that parents involved in a child custody battle understand the different factors that are considered when deciding what kind of custody to award.
First of all, divorces have different circumstances. While many divorces are inspired by issues surrounding falling out of love or betrayal, some divorces result because one of the spouses has a serious medical or psychiatric condition that can no longer be managed. If this is the case, the judge will take this into account.
If one of the parents is not mentally able to care for themselves, let alone their children, the judge is not going to award custody to this parent. In fact, the safety of the children is going to be considered the highest priority during a child custody dispute.
With safety in mind, a variety of social factors are going to be considered as well. For example, if one of the parents has been physically abusive to the other spouse or the children, this is going to be taken into consideration. The judge is not going to place the children in a home where abuse is an issue.
If one of the spouses has a smoking problem, a drinking problem, or a drug problem, this is also a safety issue. Tobacco smoke is unhealthy for children and kids certainly shouldn't be exposed to parents with a drinking or drug problem because kids can be neglected or even wind up taking these substances accidentally.
In addition to safety, the judge is going to consider the lifestyle of the children. If one of the parents is geographically closer to the crux of the kids' extracurricular activities, this is going to matter. For example, if one parent lives in close proximity to the school, church, and recreational grounds that the kids use, the judge is more likely to award custody to this parent. In addition, the judge is going to want to know where the kids' friends live. This is important for geographic reasons as well.
Finally, some children are old enough to voice their preferences regarding which parent they want to live with. This is going to play a role for divorces involving kids during their teenage years. While the opinion of teenagers is certainly not the final say, the judge is going to consider their wishes because the best interests of the children are at the heart of the matter.
A child custody battle is never pretty and it is rare that either parent wants to lose custody of their children. It is important to understand these factors prior to entering a custody dispute.