Maybe you’re thinking about getting a divorce. Or maybe you’re no longer in a relationship with your ex-partner. Either way, you might find that your biggest concern is your relationship with your child. There’s good reason to feel this way. After all, the outcome of a child custody dispute can reshape the amount of time you spend with your child, how you’re allowed to interact with him or her, and even whether you have a say in important life decisions that impact your child.

That means that there’s a lot on the line when dealing with child custody and visitation matters. What is important to remember is that your child’s interests need to be put first. So, if you’re negotiating some sort of arrangement with the child’s other parent, then you need to make sure that you’re standing up for a resolution that supports your child, not just those of the parents.

The same is true if you can’t reach an agreement and the case ends up being litigated. There, a judge will hear evidence and determine what kind of arrangement supports the child’s best interests. This can be nerve-wracking considering the fact that a judge doesn’t know you and your family. He or she will simply be issuing an order based on the evidence presented at trial.

So what does that mean for you? It means that you need to have a firm understanding of what factors are taken into account when determining what supports a child’s best interests. There are a number of them, and no one factor is determinative. They include:

  • Each parent’s relationship with the child
  • Any history of substance abuse
  • Any history of physical abuse
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The child’s emotional needs
  • The child’s educational needs
  • The child’s medical needs
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
  • Each parent’s financial stability
  • Each parent’s mental health
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant to the matter at hand

There are a variety of ways to present evidence pertaining to the best interests standard. Evidence of emotional and physical abuse, neglect, substance abuse, domestic violence, housing instability, unstable employment, lack of bond, and the child’s wishes can all be crucial to a child custody determination.

This means that you need to be prepared to gather evidence that supports your position and present it in a way that is persuasive to the child’s other parent and, potentially, a judge. This makes a lot of Alabama parents uncomfortable. After all, sometimes it can feel like simply bashing the other parent. But that isn’t the case. This is about protecting your relationship with your child and supporting what is best for your son or daughter.

Fortunately, you don’t have to face this issue alone. Skilled family law professionals, like those at our firm, have been down this road many times before. We know what to expect and how to successfully navigate the process. So, if you feel like you’d benefit from the assistance of a legal advocate, then we encourage you to do your research before settling on a firm that is right for you and your family.