During a divorce, your children may become frustrated at the lack of control they have as their future is decided. While a child may be interviewed about their preferred living situation, if you and your ex-partner cannot reach a decision about where your children should live and the range of access each party will have, this will be decided by a family court. Below is a guide to the different things a family court will consider when reviewing the access arrangements for your children:
The safety of the child
The number one priority of the court is to ensure that any children involved in a divorce are protected from harm. If there is any evidence of substance misuse, domestic abuse or neglect involving one or both of the parents, the court will look to limit access and contact. The court may still allow some contact, but these sessions will be for a set duration and will be supervised by a social worker. In extreme cases, the family court judge may put an order in place which prevents all contact between a parent and child until it is deemed that the child would no longer be at risk.
The historical relations between the parents and the child
The court will also consider the historical relations between the parents and the child. If the child hasn't spent much time with one of their parents in the past, it is unlikely that a judge will award contact or custody using an equal 50-50 split. In this case, the court is likely to favour the parent who has had consistent contact with the child. However, this doesn't mean that if you have been an absent parent that you cannot see your child. You should apply for visitation access so that you can slowly build your relationship with your child. As the relationship improves, you can apply to the court for extended access times. Increased access is generally encouraged by the courts, as it is recognised that having access to both parents can help with a child's development.
The child's age
The age of your child can also have an impact on a family court's decision. If your child is still small, it is likely that their choices will play little part in the proceedings. However, if you have a teenage child who is becoming a young adult, a court may give more weight to their opinions and choices.
If you would like further help and advice about divorce and child custody, you should contact family lawyers today.