While divorce is hard on the two adults going through it, it can have intense impacts on your children. In some instances, you may find that your child has expressed their opinion about who they would prefer to live with during a custody battle. However, there are a number of factors that the judge will consider when creating a custody plan, so understanding whether or not the judge will consider the opinion of the child is vital. The following blog explores the factors influencing a custody decision and explains how a Monroe, Louisiana child custody lawyer can help you navigate this process.
What Factors Will the Judge Consider During a Custody Battle?
In general, many judges will start examining a custody decision under the pretense that they will award a 50-50 split, as this is generally the best method for the child. However, they will examine a number of factors to determine the final custody allocation. This includes the following:
- The child’s relationship with each parent
- The ability of each parent to provide a safe environment for the child
- The location of each parent’s home to the child’s school
- The job responsibilities of each parent
- The parent’s history of caring for the child
- Whether or not either parent has allegations of abuse or neglect
While these are not the only factors a judge will consider when determining custody, these considerations are vital when deciding the final allotment of custody for each parent, as the judge must make a decision that puts the child’s best interest above all else.
Does the Preference of a Child Hold Weight When Awarding Custody?
In some instances, the child may speak to the judge about their preference of where to live. Unlike other states that only grant children over a certain age the opportunity to express their preference, Louisiana will consider the child’s maturity.
For example, a 13-year-old may say she wants to live with her mother because her father does not let her go out with friends without an adult present. Though she is expressing her opinion, this will not carry any weight when the judge is making their decision. However, if a 9-year-old boy wants to live with his father because his mother leaves him home alone for extended periods of time, the judge will consider this factor.
Generally, a judge will not have the child speak in court, as this can be overwhelming for many. Instead, both parents must agree to let the child talk to the judge in their chambers. Typically, a court reporter and the child’s legal representation will be present. The parents are not allowed to be in the room, as this could sway how freely a child speaks.
It is essential to consider that the judge does not have to take the child’s preference into consideration when awarding custody, but it can influence their final decision.
When you’re going through a custody battle, ensuring you have an experienced lawyer on your side is crucial. Contact the Offices of Beithaupt, DuBos, & Wolleson today to learn more about how we can help you and your family.