Each state has its individual laws regarding how the court should handle
a divorce involving children. Some parents can agree readily on how to
negotiate custody—who should be the custodial parent and when and
where a noncustodial parent will visit the kids. However, when parents
can’t settle on an agreement, the court must step in.
A judge will decide custody and visitation based on what is in the best
interest of the children. Neither parent gets an automatic right to custody.
Instead, most legal advisors recommend that parents take an honest look
at their situation, such as their living conditions and resources. Some
of the following will be taken into consideration before the decision is made:
- Child temperament
- Developmental needs
- Preferences of the child
- Wishes of the parent
- Interaction and relationship between parents and child
- Behavior of the parent
- Child adjustment
- Stability of existing and proposed residences
- Mental and physical health of all parties
- Any reports of abuse, neglect, or coercion
In a contested child custody case, the court will generally appoint a guardian
ad litem at the first temporary hearing. The guardian acts as the child’s
advocate and investigates all aspects of the child’s life. Many
times the guardian is an attorney, but the guardian can also be a person
who has experience with kids, such as a social worker or retired teacher.
The guardian will witness how the child behaves at home and with other
individuals and may observe the child with each parent in each parent’s
home. Guardians ad litem can also give recommendations to the court regarding
who should be the child’s primary caretaker.
Once the primary caretaker of the child is decided, the judge can order
visitation rights for the noncustodial parent if the divorcing spouses
can’t agree on a time frame. Judges will usually award parental
visitation to the noncustodial parent to support his or her role in the
lives of their children. The judge will consider the children’s
age, the parental relationship with the children, the home conditions
of each parent, and any particular problems the child may have before
making a decision regarding visitation. If the noncustodial parent fails
to pay child support, that doesn’t mean they lose the right to visitation.
If this situation happens, the custodial parent must go to the judge to
solve the problem, who will decide what the punishment to the noncustodial
parent will be, if any.
If you’re going through a divorce, make sure you have excellent legal
representation. Contact our experienced
Greenville family law attorneys for a free initial consultation. Our firm has more than 90 years of combined
experience to put at your disposal. If you and your spouse are disagreeing
about custody, make sure you have a legal advocate on your side.
Contact us at (864) 408-8890 or fill out our online form to schedule a meeting with us today.