A young girl with blonde hair smiles and wraps her arm around a younger blonde boy with big brown eyes. They look directly at the camera and sit closely together, appearing happy and affectionate. The background is blurred with greenery and red elements.

“In the child’s best interests” is a term you can hear quite frequently during a child custody dispute following most any divorce. What does this really mean to you, a parent who is battling an ex-spouse for full or primary custody of your child? At a cursory glance, it means that the court only wants to do what will most benefit your child, but there are many factors that can influence how this is interpreted, including your own past.

What You Have Done & Will Do Matters

The court is assigned with the task of choosing the parent who will most likely be just that: a parent. Beyond the regular variables, such as a child’s personal interests and relationships with their family, the outcome of your child custody battle will be determined heavily by the skeletons in your closet, or hopefully the lack thereof.

Major points of concern the court will analyze for you and your contending spouse are:

  • Criminal history: A parent who has been behind bars once or twice gives the court the idea that they cannot be a good role model for a growing, learning child. Even if your son or daughter is clearly attached to you more than your ex-spouse, a criminal record could separate you from them.
  • Domestic violence: Just one conviction of domestic violence in your past is enough to tip the scales completely out of your favor. You should consider expungement, record sealing, or simply making careful amends with the alleged victims if you have ever been convicted of domestic violence and are now entering a child custody battle.
  • Employment: Raising a child requires income to keep them happy and healthy. The court will want to see that you have had steady or gainful employment in the past so it can expect you will have the same in the future. This not only puts a roof over your child’s head but also sets a positive example.
  • Health: A serious injury or chronic illness can understandably take the wind out of anyone’s sails. Earning full or primary custody of your child will be an uphill battle if you are often debilitated to the point where you cannot take care of yourself easily.

One last important aspect that can seriously affect the outcome of your child custody case is the age of the child. If your child is a teenager, the court may defer all decisions to them directly, allowing them to choose where they want to live. You would need to present a considerably influential argument to convince the court to rule against the wishes of a teenage child.

For help forming your case or argument, you can turn to the York child custody attorneys from Ilkhanoff & Silverstein. Our firm was established more than 15 years ago and we have been helping the families of Pennsylvania through times both thick and thin ever since. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you during an initial case evaluation.