After a breakup or divorce, parents often worry most about who will get custody of their children. In some cases, parents can agree to share custody or that one person receiving primary custody is in the child’s best interests.
However, when parents disagree, other parties can help them and the courts decide on custody-related matters.
- Forensic psychologists: Parties can refer to a forensic psychologist who can perform a child custody evaluation to determine what arrangement can be best for a child. As this article discusses more thoroughly, they conduct interviews with a child and parents to assess the needs and capabilities of all parties. The psychologist then makes a recommendation to the courts.
- The child: Having a child choose between parents can be traumatic. However, in some cases, a child’s clear, well-reasoned preference can help the courts approve a custody and parenting plan in the child’s best interests. Thus, in Texas, the courts can consider the wishes of a child who is at least 12 years old when determining custody.
- A mediator: Parents who hope to decide custody without going to court can work with a mediator to reach agreements. A mediator will not tell parents what to do, but they can help parents communicate more effectively. Mediators can also offer creative solutions that parents may not have considered to develop a plan that works for everyone.
- Step-siblings and other family members: Maintaining close, loving relationships that a child has is crucial. Primarily, these relationships are between a child and each parent. However, others can be critical, as well. If your child grew up with step-siblings or close to immediate family, severing these ties could be devastating. Thus, they could have an impact on where a child should live after a divorce.
For better or worse, multiple parties can have an opinion and stake in child custody cases. If you are locked in a dispute with an ex, you can talk to your lawyer about whether these parties could be helpful in making decisions.