In most cases, the parents are focused on winning the custody battle, making the process about them and not the child. The paramountcy principle stipulates that a child's best interests are paramount in all matters affecting or involving them. Thus, while spouses fight to keep custody of the child, they should remember that the court's first consideration is the child's best interest and well-being. Parties involved in child custody hearings should consult a reputable child custody attorney to safeguard a child's best interests during the custody hearing. Below are some factors that determine a child's best interests:
An Unfit Parent
The first option available to a spouse in a child custody hearing is to prove that the other parent is unfit. A child custody attorney may prove grounds such as drug abuse or neglect to demonstrate that a parent is unfit. If a parent has a drug problem like an opioid addiction that affects the performance of their parental responsibility, that parent is unfit and cannot win custody. Another way a child custody attorney demonstrates that one parent is unfit is through neglect. Neglect occurs when the parent does not provide basic needs and care to the child. Thus, a parent may hire a child custody attorney to provide a strong case against an unfit parent or defend the accusation.
The Child's Age
Initially, mothers frequently won custody of children in the nursing phase of their development. The rationale was that a child in their nursing and developmental stage needs a mother's care more for breastfeeding and upbringing. However, this "tender years" doctrine is not fully applicable nowadays. Despite the departure from the "tender years" doctrine, some judges still consider a child's age an essential factor in determining their best interests. A child custody attorney can demonstrate that the child is safe or at great risk living with the mother despite their tender years, winning custody for their clients.
Courts are aware of the fact that a child's environment is crucial to their development. Thus, one prime consideration when determining a child's best interest is their environment — in this case, the parent's living situation. Children must be in a warm, loving, and supportive environment that allows them to express themselves and live happily. A spouse crashing at a friend's place after a divorce without a home of their own has little chance of winning the custody battle. A child custody attorney understands the legal standard required to prove that a parent's living standards are unsuitable and do not foster a child's best interest.