It's NOT about You!
When thinking about these statutory factors, it is also important to remember that a Judge is analyzing these factors from the perspective of the child. So, for instance, if a parent has a physical or mental illness, the Judge is looking at how that physical or mental illness might impact or affect the day to day life of the child.
If a parent that currently has custody is relocating, the Judge is thinking about how that relocation will affect the child’s relationships with the other parent, with siblings, with significant family members, with community members. Judges are not unsympathetic to the needs of the parents, or the struggles that they have, but the law requires that they focus not on the parents’ needs and concerns, but on the child’s best interests. Of course, the law also presumes that it is best for a child to have a healthy relationship with their parents. The Judge is going to consider that relationship as part of his or her considerations on custody. It just isn’t the focus of their analysis.
So, as a parent, when you find yourself before the court on a custody case, you will do well to remember that this issue at least is not about you. It’s about your child. If you’re in court talking about custody, it is pretty much a given that you love your child and want them with you as much as possible. But that is probably equally true for the other parent or other adults seeking custody.
Also, don’t pretend that you are perfect and the other parent is perfectly bad. Most people have strengths and weaknesses. Judges are human, too. They understand this. What they need you to help them understand better is how each parent’s strengths improve your child’s life, and how each parent’s weaknesses or struggles impact the child’s life.
Remember, as far as the Judge is concerned, it’s not about you. It’s about your child. As you present your evidence, therefore, you will help the Judge by focusing on your child, and offering evidence about their needs, their successes, and their relationships with the people around them.