By: Alexis Doree |
How the Court Determines Child Custody
When parents divorce or separate, decisions regarding custody of the children must be made. This can be the most difficult and tumultuous part of a case. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on parenting time and responsibilities, the court will make those decisions for them. While courts typically favor parties making these decisions, as they know what is best for their children, that is not always possible.
Like most states, North Dakota courts make custody decisions by assessing what custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the parties’ children. North Dakota law is very clear on what a court should consider when determining custody and visitation, they are what is sometimes called “the best interest factors for the child/children”, and are laid out as follows:
a. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parents and child and the ability of each parent to provide the child with nurture, love, affection, and guidance;
b. The ability of each parent to assure that the child receives adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and a safe environment;
c. The child’s developmental needs and the ability of each parent to meet those needs, both in the present and in the future;
d. The sufficiency and stability of each parent’s home environment, the impact of extended family, the length of time the child has lived in each parent’s home, and the desirability of maintaining continuity in the child’s home and community;
e. The willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
f. The moral fitness of the parents, as that fitness impacts the child;
g. The mental and physical health of the parents, as that health impacts the child;
h. The home, school, and community records of the child and the potential effect of any change;
i. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that a child is of sufficient maturity to make a sound judgment, the court may give substantial weight to the preference of the mature child. The court also shall give due consideration to other factors that may have affected the child’s preference, including whether the child’s preference was based on undesirable or improper influences;
j. Evidence of domestic violence;
k. The interaction and interrelationship, or the potential for interaction and interrelationship, of the child with any person who resides in, is present, or frequents the household of a parent and who may significantly affect the child’s best interests. The court shall consider that person’s history of inflicting, or tendency to inflict, physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the fear of physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, on other persons;
l. The making of false allegations not made in good faith, by one parent against the other, of harm to a child; and
m. Any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular parental rights and responsibilities dispute.
No sole factor is determinative. Instead, a court will weigh all of the evidence presented, consider each factor, and then make its decision. It’s important to keep in mind that everything you do before, during, and after the separation or divorce can relate to these factors, which in turn can have a direct impact on the court’s decision. Remember to always make decisions with your children’s best interests in mind as the choices that you will make can affect your relationship with your children for years to come.
If you are going through a custody dispute or are thinking about initiating a case, it may be in your best interest to have an experienced family law attorney at your side to help guide you through the process.
Please contact Rosenquist Law Office at (701) 775-0654 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as so.