The parent-child relationship is one of the more significant ones in society. After all, if you have children, you have an opportunity to instill good moral character, teach important skills and provide a stable environment. If you are going through a divorce, though, you must decide which parent has legal and physical custody of the kids.
In the Buckeye State, judges must consider the best interests of the children before settling custody matters. When applying the best interests standard, Ohio judges must consider 10 factors. Generally, these factors fall into the following three categories:
1. The wishes of the parties
The first few factors in the best interests test address the wishes of the parties. That is, a judge is apt to want to know what you, your former partner and your kids think about custody issues. Accordingly, both you and your partner may testify about what you want to happen. The judge may also interview your children or ask an independent party to perform an evaluation.
2. Each parent’s ability to care for the kids
Typically, children thrive in a stable environment. As such, a family law judge is likely to consider each parent’s ability to care for the kids. He or she may weigh your children’s adjustment to home, school and the community. Furthermore, the judge may want to know about the children’s relationship with each parent.
3. Each parent’s background
Some individuals make better parents than others. Therefore, you can expect the judge in your custody case to evaluate the physical and mental health of both parents. Additionally, the judge is likely to consider whether either parent has a criminal rap sheet, a record of missing support payments or a history of attempted custody interference.
If you and your former partner cannot agree on custody matters, a judge is likely to intervene. By understanding the best interests standard, you can gauge your odds of winning your custody dispute.