Factors That Influence Child-Custody Decisions
When you consult a family law attorney near D.C., he or she will ask you about your goals for the child custody arrangement and parenting time plan. Under D.C. law the primary consideration in determining what custody arraignment the judge will order is the best interest of the child. Under family law in D.C., the court will consider all relevant factors, however with the judge is required to address the factors identified in the DC Code, the judge may consider any factor that appears to be relevant.. Inform your family law attorney of any factors that may influence the judge’s decision, including the following.
The judge may consider the preference of the child if it is reasonable to do so. In general, a child’s preferences are considered if the
judge determines that the child is old enough and sufficiently mature to express a preference. In addition to the child’s preference,
the judge may consider the preferences of the parents. However, when the judge considers the preference of the child or parents, it is important to remember that this factor is not determinative.
You can expect your family law attorney to ask you some questions about your family relationships. The court may consider the relationships between the child and each of the parents, and between the child and his or her siblings. The judge may evaluate the extent to which either parent was involved in the child’s life prior to the legal separation or divorce. For example, your lawyer may demonstrate that you were the primary caregiver because you took the child to doctor’s appointments, interacted with his or her teachers, helped with homework, and provided care after school.
For a child to thrive, he or she needs stability. It is often considered in the child’s best interests to establish a custody arrangement that supports continuity of the child’s home life. The court may consider whether granting custody to one parent will mean that the child will have to switch school districts and whether he or she will live close to other relatives.
If the judge determines by a preponderance of the evidence that a parent has committed an intrafamily offense, this can significantly influence the custody arrangement and visitation plan. An intrafamily offense includes acts of domestic violence and threats of domestic violence. If the judge finds that an intrafamily offense has occurred there is a rebuttable presumption that joint custody is not appropriate.