I am worried about my children’s living conditions when they are with my ex-wife, and I would like to know if a child custody modification is justified.
I keep a very clean home and provide a stable environment for my children, which they do not receive when staying with my ex-wife.
How can I get my kids’ living conditions inspected and have it officially recorded to present as evidence during a possible child custody modification trial?
First, anyone who has a legitimate concern for the safety and welfare of any child(ren) has the option of calling your state’s Department of Family and Child Services. The Department will assess the claims and if necessary take the appropriate steps for investigating and rectifying the situation.
Regarding seeking custody of the children, it is always within the judge’s authority to determine custody of a minor child and the judge shall determine what type of custody/visitation arrangement is in the child’s best interest.
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For example, where I practice, statutory factors the judge may take into account when making a child custody determination include:
A. The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;
B. The love, affection, bonding, and emotional ties existing between the child and his or her siblings, half siblings, and stepsiblings and the residence of such other children;
C. The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child;
D. Each parent’s knowledge and familiarity of the child and the child’s needs;
E. The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, day-to-day needs, and other necessary basic care, with consideration made for the potential payment of child support by the other parent;
F. The home environment of each parent considering the promotion of nurturance and safety of the child rather than superficial or material factors;
G. The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
H. The stability of the family unit of each of the parents and the presence or absence of each parent’s support systems within the community to benefit the child;
I. The mental and physical health of each parent;
J. Each parent’s involvement, or lack thereof, in the child’s educational, social, and extracurricular activities;
K. Each parent’s employment schedule and the related flexibility or limitations, if any, of a parent to care for the child;
L. The home, school, and community record and history of the child, as well as any health or educational special needs of the child;
M. Each parent’s past performance and relative abilities for future performance of parenting responsibilities;
N. The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent, consistent with the best interest of the child;
O. Any recommendation by a court appointed custody evaluator or guardian ad litem;
P. Any evidence of family violence or sexual, mental, or physical child abuse or criminal history of either parent; and
Q. Any evidence of substance abuse by either parent.
It is important to note, however, that a parent who “wins” on more factors is not necessarily entitled to custody. For example, a parent’s role as primary caretaker is often the determining factor. A primary caretaker, however, can lose custody to a parent with better parenting skills and a more stable home environment.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.