Divorce comes with an abundance of challenging situations and difficult decisions. But any divorcing parent knows that a child custody battle might be one of the toughest ones. In contested cases, a judge will determine which parent receives custody. But how do they come to the decision?
Does age make a difference?
You might think that your child's age might influence a judge's decision to award custody to one parent over another, particularly if one of your children is an infant or young toddler. But age does not ever solely determine which parent will receive custody.
There is, however, an instance where your child's age may come into play. In Texas, children who are 12 years or older can express which parent they would prefer to live with. A judge might ask them in a separate, less public environment so your child feels more comfortable speaking. They might also have the option to speak to a third party member who will then relay your child's preference on to the judge.
This is the only instance in which age really matters in a custody battle. And even so, it's still not a major determining factor in a child custody ruling.
How does a judge determine custody?
Rather, a judge will first consider several factors that determine what the best interests of the child are. This includes standards such as:
- Your relationship and bond with your child
- How involved you are in your child's life
- How much you contribute to the mental and emotional well-being of your child
- How well you can meet your child's basic needs
- Your financial stability
- Your financial responsibility
- How near or far your home is from your child's school and friends
- How safe your living environment is for your child
- How much room your living environment allows your child to grow and develop
- Your physical and mental health
You don't have to go through it alone
A judge prefers consistency and safety above all else in a custody hearing. After all, the well-being of your child must come first. While it can be an emotionally difficult time for you, you can benefit from having an attorney by your side who will advocate for you and support you when you need it. Ultimately, they can help find a solution that will best benefit your child.