Evidence Considered In Child Custody Determinations

St. Louis divorce lawyerQuestion:

What type of evidence is considered for child custody determinations?

The mother of my child is bipolar and subject to extreme mood swings. She also is very free with her sexuality, including sending me videos of her having sex with other men. I’m worried for my child’s welfare and want to get custody.

Is any of her mental and sexual issues relevant in a child custody hearing?

Answer:

I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Missouri child custody laws where I am temporarily permitted to practice.

Generally when determining the appropriate child custody arrangement for a child, courts will analyze several factors in rendering its decision, including but not limited to, what the custodial wishes are of the child’s parents and if applicable, the child itself, the needs of the child, and also, the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, including any history of abuse, alcoholism, mental illness, etc.

Please be advised however, that there is no “bright line” rule regarding the type of evidence that a court may consider during a child custody hearing, as it is in the court’s full and complete discretion to consider all of the facts presented before it (including the mother’s).

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Will I Get Custody?

Certainly in your case, if you are able to present credible evidence that the mother’s bipolar issues and sexual proclivities make her unfit to have custody of the minor child, then a court would likely weigh this evidence heavily in your favor.

While there are no guarantees of success, the more concrete factual evidence that you have to present to the court related to the mother’s alleged “unfitness”, the better chance you will have of obtaining a more favorable outcome.

Please be advised that if a court does deem your child’s mother to be unfit for purposes of custody, it may award you sole custody of the child, which will give you exclusive physical and legal custodial rights concerning the child  (i.e. the child would reside exclusively with you and you would be the only parent with whom would have the right to make major decisions for the child, including those related to its health, schooling, etc.).

Keep in mind that the non-custodial parent may still be entitled to either supervised or unsupervised visitation, depending upon the gravity of the circumstances (i.e. the level of mental illness of the child’s mother).

Moreover, there is a likelihood that the court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem in your case, who will conduct his/her own investigation of the case and make a recommendation as to what he/she deems as is in the best interests of your child.

Note that GALs are extremely helpful because they are able to develop factual support in the case, which includes ordering a mental evaluation of the mother, drug tests, etc. – which are ultimately presented to and considered by the court in determining the appropriate custodial arrangement.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a mens divorce attorney in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Jennifer de Lyon Stralka, an associate attorney in the St. Louis office, contact Cordell & Cordell Law Firm.

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