Going through a divorce is like preparing for a hurricane. You may see it coming for weeks, or it may sneak in and surprise you in a matter of days. However the storm approaches, it can do serious damage if you are not prepared.
One step to take when preparing for the hurricane that is divorce is to have a basic understanding of how child custody laws work.
Most family laws are creatures of the state, and vary in every state. Those who are going through a divorce in New Hampshire can benefit from the following.
What is child custody?
Child custody refers to two different areas: the physical and the legal. Where the child lives falls under the purview of physical custody while decisions regarding education and healthcare generally fall into the category of legal custody.
Parents can opt to have joint custody, allowing each parent to essentially split the time with the children. In this arrangement, both parents generally have a say in the legal issues that impact the children as well.
How is child custody determined?
If the parents cannot come up with a determination on how share parenting time, the court will be involved. When making a determination, the court looks at a legal standard referred to as the best interest of the child. This standard includes consideration of a number of factors, including:
- Relationship with children. The court will look into the relationship each child has with each parent.
- Relationship with other parent. The court will also take into consideration the likelihood of each parent to encourage the children to have a positive relationship with the non-custodial parent.
- Ability to provide. Children require a lot from their parents. This goes beyond the need for shelter and food, though those needs are also taken into consideration. It includes the ability to provide support for emotional and developmental needs as well.
These are just a few of the listed factors the court will take into consideration. The court also has the ability to take "other additional factors the court deems relevant" into review when making its determination. This provides a fairly large umbrella for the court to review anything that could impact the child's well-being when making its decision.
What can I do?
Parents can take a number of steps to help better ensure a more favorable outcome. One of the biggest steps you can take involves social media.
First, use social media wisely. It may be best to take a hiatus from Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts. If you must keep your online presence active, keep in mind that anything you put online could end up in court. A fun picture of a night out with friends could be used to support an accusation that you are an unfit parent.
Second, check on the other parent's social media. The same issues that are present for your use of social media are also present for your ex-spouse.