What do judges look for in child custody cases? – 2021

By Solent Family Mediation |
December 20, 2021
child custody

Child Custody Mediation

Aspects for the Judge or Magistrate to Consider

Children will always be the top priority, and their well-being will be of the utmost significance. They will want to know the child’s desires and emotions. Consideration will be given to the child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs, as well as the impact of any changes to the child’s environment.

Age, gender, characteristics, and background of the child will all play a role in the decision-making process. The judge or magistrate will seek to ensure the child’s safety and the parent‘s ability to provide for the child’s needs.

A judge or magistrate will only issue an order if it is in the child’s best interest.

When determining the optimal child custody for the child, numerous aspects are taken into account:

Child’s emotions and input:

If your child or children are old enough, often 12 or 13, the courts will seek their input and take their sentiments into account.

Cafcass officials are trained to communicate with children in a sensitive manner, and if it is appropriate to speak with them, they may not be asked explicitly which parent they prefer to live with, as doing so could make them feel embarrassed and upset either parent.

Children under the age of eleven will be able to speak, but their opinions may not have as much weight in the court’s judgement.

As a means of identifying the emotions of very young children, it may enough to request that they draw and describe a picture. Regardless of the outcome, the primary concern will always be to cause the child as little distress as possible. If the Cafcass team believes that the kid is distressed, they will advise the parents to try again to make a resolution without the child’s participation.

A child has the right to select which parent they desire to live with at age 16.

Parental views:

The judge will consider which parent has had primary responsibility for the child’s upbringing, as taking the child from that parent may be traumatic for the child.

They will want to determine who can devote the most time to the youngster. If possible, it is generally considered more advantageous for a child to be with a parent rather than a babysitter; hence, if one parent can devote more contact time, this may work in their favour.

However, if either parent presents a risk to the children, such as through alcohol or substance misuse or aggressive behaviour, the judge is unlikely to grant custody to that parent.

However, if either parent presents a risk to the children, such as through alcohol or substance misuse or aggressive behaviour, the judge is unlikely to grant custody to that parent.

Parental responsibility

You may only petition for child custody if you have parental responsibility and child custody.

Married Parents:

When parents get married, both automatically assume parenting responsibilities.

Unmarried Parents:

Regardless of her marital status, the mother assumes parental responsibilities upon the child’s birth. The father must apply for parental responsibility with the mother’s assent, unless he is included on the birth cert, with which he already has parental responsibility.

Solent Family Mediation

If you are unable to agree on child custody arrangements amicably, mediation should be attempted whenever possible in child custody cases

Typically, mediation will take place at a family support centre with the assistance of an impartial mediator to keep the focus on the problem of child custody. The mediator will always consider what is best for the child, and it will be their responsibility to keep personal feelings out of the discussions.

The mediator will attempt to maintain a calm and comfortable environment and may ask to talk with your child. They will only do so if all parties agree and they believe it is necessary to help the case. The mediator will always do the best for the child in child custody cases.

They will consider the perspectives of both parents and will not take a side. The mediator’s role is to assist the parties in reaching a satisfactory agreement on all elements of child care.

There are exceptions to the mediation requirement, such as when social services are engaged or when you are the victim of domestic violence. Otherwise, the courts will expect you to have attended an MIAM prior to your case being accepted for a custody hearing.

Mediation is not free, although those with low incomes may be eligible for legal aid to cover the cost of the MIAM, the cost of mediation sessions for the person with a low income, and if necessary, help with attorneys fees after mediation.

Call Solent Family Mediation today for more information on how we can help you – 0238 161 1051