One of the toughest decisions family court judges must make happens when parent battle for custody of the children.
The biblical King Solomon, faced with two mothers who each claimed to be the mother of the same child, had the wisdom to identify the real mother. Real life situations are not so easy. Unlike King Solomon, the judge cannot cut the child in half.
In all the jurisdictions, judges award disputed custody by deciding which parent serves the “best interest of the child” – a phrase that means what the judged says it means.
Although the standard varies from state to state, when considering what is in the child’s “best interest,” courts typically consider:
- the wishes of the child (if old enough to express a reasonable preference);
- the mental and physical health of the parents;> the religion and/or cultural considerations;
- the need for continuation of stable home environment;
- the support of members of extended family of either parent;
- the interaction of members of household;
- the adjustment to school and community;
- the age and sex of child;
- the Parental use of excessive discipline or emotional abuse; and,
- the evidence of parental drug, alcohol or sex abuse, if any.