Factors and Outcomes in Custody Disputes
Custody disputes sometimes arise during a separation and are often predicated on issues that existed prior to the separation. A number of factors contribute to a custody dispute, including high conflict between the parents, the child’s role in disagreements between the parents, and poor relations between a child and parent, such as in situations of neglect or abuse. Whatever the circumstances, decisions about custody are not taken lightly by court judges because they realize their decisions will affect the emotional well-being and growth of the child.
Factors in Determining Child Custody
There are several factors that a court will consider in determining custody however the overriding factor is always what is in the best interests of the child.
The “best interests of the child” test of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted in Newfoundland under s. 31 of the Children’s Law Act, RSNL 1990, c C-13. In taking a holistic view of the circumstances of the child, some of the key elements considered are:
- The love and affection between the child and parents, or other members of the child’s family living in the home
- The views and preferences of the child
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment
- Parenting plans proposed by the parent for upbringing the child
- History of violence or abuse from either parent or their current partner
Another important consideration in determining custody is the willingness to communicate with the other parent. If a couple has shown that they could work together in the past, then a judge may consider joint custody on the basis that they are likely able to work together in the future. If the parental communication has broken down, however, a judge will look favourably upon the parent who encourages relations between the child and other parent.
Custody Dispute OutcomesJoint custody is now the starting point in most cases, however sole custody is still ordered in certain situations, usually where there has been some significant inappropriate behavior on the part of the non-custodial parent or where the parties cannot communicate in any way. In high-conflict situations, a judge may order both parents to undergo a home assessment before making a decision on custody.
When to Contact a Family Lawyer
If you are experiencing a custody dispute, a family law lawyer at Gittens & Associates can assist you. We handle custody disputes routinely. Our team of family law lawyers will ensure your legal rights are protected while encouraging a settlement. We can represent you in litigating the matter if the other party is unreasonable in negotiations. At Gittens & Associates, our lawyers are experienced at winning custody cases in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Call us toll free at 1-888-592-7171.