One of the most important considerations for couples going through a divorce should be the welfare of their minor children, including custody and visitation issues.
Too often, however, their children become yet another object of disagreement between the already-fighting parents.
The guiding factor in determining the custody of the minor children is: What will best promote the interest and welfare of the child?
The court has significant discretion in this decision. It makes sense for parents to create their own agreement for the welfare of the child. If the parents are unable to agree, they are required to participate in mediation. If that is not successful, a court will have to make the decision. The parents are then voluntarily turning custody issues over to a judge, who, though well-intentioned, has no personal knowledge about the child. Parents should give this careful consideration.
If the court does have to decide, the factors are numerous and diverse just as are the acts of parenthood itself. The court will consider all of those things that might impinge on the development of the child’s physical, mental, emotional, moral and spiritual faculties. The court will consider each parent’s caretaking abilities. The court will consider the child’s bonding with each parent and with other siblings. The weight, however, that the court may put on any of these factors is within the judge’s prerogative./p>
Can the court give custody of the minor children to someone other than the parents? Yes, but it is not likely. The right of parents to have custody of their children is substantial - but it is not absolute.
Other relatives, therefore (including well-intentioned grandparents), face an uphill battle in trying to get custody of minor children. They must show the parents to be unfit or engaged in conduct inconsistent with his or her parental status. It is not enough for the relatives to show that they may be more fit to have custody of the children.
Whatever their disagreements are with each other, parents should keep their eye clearly on the most important consideration: What is best for this child? That should be the guiding star.
Remember: An informed choice is a smart choice.
Read more about this at the Winston-Salem Journal.