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There are many reasons that a woman might remain in a relationship that makes her unhappy. One of the most common is for the sake of the couple’s children. Women often worry about how a divorce will affect their children’s mental health. They may also be worried about the custody arrangements. All of these are valid concerns.
If your child is still toddler age, you may be even more concerned. In many families, the mother plays the biggest role in early childhood development. The father doesn’t play an active role, so they don’t know how to take care of the child. This can make it extremely anxiety-inducing for mothers to think about a joint custody arrangement.
Custody arrangements are influenced by a huge number of external factors. The chances of being obligated to uphold a joint custody arrangement vary depending on your circumstances. You should be aware of the influencing factors in your situation. You should also make peace with the potential for any outcome.
Factors Affecting Custody
Custody arrangements are some of the most varied agreements in a divorce. This is because most states don’t have in-depth specific guidelines regarding every possible circumstance. Instead, the court is tasked with just one priority: acting in the child’s best interest.
A custody arrangement should be the best possible option for the physical and mental well-being of the child. What this looks like depends on your exact situation. Judges look at many different factors to make this decision.
Even if you aren’t confident that joint custody is a beneficial option, the judge might not agree. Historically, women have been considered the “natural caretakers” of their children. As such, women have sometimes been awarded primary physical custody due purely to bias.
However, in recent years, there has been more emphasis on the obligations of both parents. Fathers have been given greater consideration. Many fathers these days are interested in taking an active role in their child’s life. You can’t expect to get sole custody based on motherhood alone. But there are larger factors that affect the decision.
The Father’s Wishes
If the father wants custody and advocates for a joint custody solution, there’s a high likelihood of the petition being granted. This is especially true if the father shows up to all custody hearings and appears concerned with their child’s best interest.
Unfortunately, many fathers simply aren’t interested in participating in their child’s upbringing. If the father of your child makes it clear that he isn’t interested in physical custody, the judge likely won’t give him physical custody.
Any parent might be unfit to raise a child, regardless of whether they’re the child’s father or mother. Women are not automatically better equipped to raise a child. Similarly, men shouldn’t be rewarded for meeting bare minimum standards of caring about their child.
The judge will consider the competency of each parent. Is the parent able to give the child everything they need? Do they have adequate, safe shelter? Will they clothe the child and make sure they’re fed? Judges will often not grant extended custody if a parent cannot meet a child’s needs.
Parents need to provide more than physical necessities, though. They should also be able to give their children adequate care and attention. Both parents can come to an agreement regarding financial support, but emotional unavailability can be permanently damaging to a child’s psychological development.
The judge will consider each parent’s ability to meet the physical and emotional needs of their child. This is often the biggest factor regarding custody arrangements.
Past History of Abuse
If your marriage has a history of abuse, this will have a huge impact on a child custody case. This is especially true if you’ve filed a restraining order against your spouse. There is almost zero chance that a documented abuser will get custody. Even if your spouse never abused the child, a judge will not place a child in a home with someone who has demonstrated abusive tendencies.
If you have reason to believe your spouse is a danger to your child, you need to gather as much proof as you can. Your lawyer will advise you about what documentation is necessary. A judge will often give both parents joint custody so the child can have a relationship with both of them. But if one parent poses a danger to the child, it would be irresponsible to place the child in their care.
Talk to your attorney about what you want. They’ll explain your options