When two people get divorced, dividing assets and deciding the terms of the separation can be a messy affair. When there are children involved, things become more complicated and emotions run much higher. Claims of abuse or neglect can determine which parent will retain custody of a child and under what conditions another parent can visit with their child. There are often claims of abuse or other factors that may determine a parent's fitness; and these claims may or may not be true. In these cases, you need evidence to strengthen your case.
When it comes to child custody investigations, the best interests of the child are key. A private investigator can conduct a child custody investigation on your behalf to ensure that your children are safe, and evidence that can help to establish the truth about your child’s welfare and safety in the courtroom.
Types of Child Custody
In order to understand the nature and purpose of child custody investigations, it’s important to understand what sorts of custody exist, and what class of custody you are seeking (or seeking to prove is not right for the child).
Legal Custody: legal custody status gives a parent the right to make decisions regarding the child.
Physical Custody: Having physical custody of your child means the child lives with you.
Sole Custody: Sole custody means that the child both lives with you, and you have the right to make legal decisions regarding the child’s affairs. The other parent may have visitation rights, but has no say over the child’s affairs or where the child lives.
Joint Legal Custody. If you have joint legal custody, both you and the child’s other parent have a say in decisions regarding the child. In the event of a major disagreement, the courts will become involved.
Joint Physical Custody: In this case, the child splits their time between both parents’ custody.
What the Courts Consider in Custody Cases
When the courts decide custody, they are guided by the Best Interests of the Child Standard. Although the details may vary from state to state, Courts are required to take into account a number of factors that will assist in determining what custody arrangement will be in the child's best interest. Obviously, if there is abuse, that will be a determining factor. The Courts will look at the overall picture including which parent is most capable of providing support to the child, where the child will be safest, the mental and physical needs of the parents and children, and what type of extended family network is available to help with raising the child. Each jurisdiction has its own laws that provide guidance to the courts as to how to determine the best interests of the child.
Here are some common factors that the courts are likely to consider when determining the best interests of the child:
The stability, health, lifestyle and schedules of each parent
Whether prospective guardians have criminal records and/or activity
Any evidence of child abuse or neglect
If there are fraudulent or unfounded accusations by either parent against the other concerning abuse or neglect of the child
Whether either parent has a history complaints of violence
Drug and alcohol use (and abuse)
Evidence of parenting skills
Willingness and means to provide food, shelter, and education for the child
The state of the home environment
The morality and conduct of the parent
The overall emotional and physical health of the parent
The willingness of one parent to support a healthy and ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent
If either parent has abducted or abandoned the child in defiance of court orders or legal process.
Evidence of the parent’s care and affection for the child
The financial health and standing of each parent
Each parents’ past and current personal conduct
The suitability and acceptability of the parent’s friends and other associates