How do you determine Child Custody in a Divorce Proceeding?
Typically, if the parties can agree as to Joint Custody, with one Spouse being granted Residential Custody over the child(ren), a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) will typically not be appointed by the Court to represent the child's interest.
However, if the parties are contesting Custody, both Joint and Residential Custody, a GAL will need to be appointed.
As a Certified GAL, the factors I consider when appointed by the court are:
(1) The wishes of the child and both parents
(2) Whether a parent has engaged in a pattern of violent behavior
(3) The safety and well-being of the child
(4) The child's relationship with the Parents and other family members
(5) The amount and quality of time you have spent with the child
(6) Any reasonable life-style changes
(7) The child's adjustment to home, school, religion, and community
(8) The child's age and educational needs
(9) The mental or physical health of a parent or child
(10) Availability of child care services
(11) The cooperation and communication between parents
(12) A child's allegations against the parents of physical abuse or problems with alcohol or drugs
(13) The reports of medically trained professionals
Once I have completed an investigation, I submit a formal report to the court and make a recommendation as to the type of Child Custody each party should have. In representing my Client's in Divorce Proceedings where Child Custody is at issue, I advise my clients on how to prepare for GAL investigations.
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