The courts consider a variety of factors when making child custody decisions. Understanding the elements that contribute to a child custody order can help you better manage your expectations leading into your case. When the judge evaluates your custody case, they consider parental fitness as a key factor.
There are a few fundamental elements of parental fitness to think about.
Physical and emotional well-being
Each parent’s physical and emotional well-being factor into parental fitness considerations. Courts assess whether each parent is capable of caring for the child in their current physical and emotional condition. Factors including mental health issues, substance abuse and a history of violence factor into the decision.
Stability is critical for a child’s well-being. The judge will consider which parent can provide a stable home for the child with routines, reliable care and financial consistency. Parents with a track record of frequent relocations, job instability and financial irresponsibility could raise concerns.
The relationship between each parent and the child matters, too. The judge considers the bond between the child and each parent. A parent with a strong, positive bond is more likely to offer the emotional support the child needs.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 19,000 children in the U.S. lived with only one parent in 2019. Understanding the factors that contribute to parental fitness help you approach the custody negotiations more openly and make it easier to identify potential concerns to raise in court. The goal of every custody dispute is to find the best environment for the child, and parental fitness is an important factor.