One of the most hotly debated issues in divorce is often child custody. Child custody battles can get extremely ugly if both parents are unwilling to compromise in determining custody arrangements. Often parents get so wrapped up in their own desires, they forget about the best interest of their child. In general, two parents are better than one and it is important that the child be allowed to establish a close relationship with each parent despite the divided household. However, a primary residence for the child must be established in order to provide stability.
Many issues are examined in choosing the main residence of the child. In many families, there is one parent who has established a stronger parental role with the children. The person who has typically provided more parental guidance over the years is more likely to be selected as the person who determines the main residence. Another factor in determining primary residence is work hours. A parent who works regular hours and spends most of his/her free time at home has a stronger pull to provide the primary residence. If one parent is required to take frequent business trips or works irregular hours, it may not be in the best interest of the child to make that household the primary residence. It is important that the primary residence of the child be stable with as much parental contact as possible. If a child has step or half sibling(s), this can play a role in determining the residence. It is likely in the best interest of the child to be placed in a residence with other children so she/he can establish a relationship with his/her step or half sibling(s). If the child is over the age of twelve, her/his opinion can help determine primary residence. An interview of the child can be conducted to determine where he/she would most like to live. The desires of the child will likely have a strong impact in ultimately determining the primary residence. All of these issues as well as many others can be taken into consideration before a primary residence for a child is determined.
Negative behaviors on the part of a parent can have a huge affect in determining primary residence and also visitation rights. Allegations or instances of abuse or neglect can certainly be used in determining the best residence for the child. If a parent has proven issues of abuse or neglect against them, it is unlikely they will be selected as the primary residence. Instances of abuse or neglect can also have a big impact on visitation right. These rights can be reduced, regulated or even eliminated depending on the severity. Drug and/or alcohol abuse also play a role in selecting a residence for a child. A parent who is a proven drug user or has issues of alcohol abuse is unlikely to be selected to provide the primary residence for a child. These behaviors can also affect the level of visitation awarded to a parent.
It is important to remember that child custody issues are often stressful for the children involved. It is in their best interest to amicably work out an agreement that works for everyone. It is advisable to consult an experienced family law attorney in determining custody arrangements so everyone feels like the agreement is fair. Even if your residence is not selected as the primary household for your child, you will still be awarded visitation and able to establish a close relationship with your child.