Achieving A Child Custody Arrangement That Is In The Best Interest Of Your Child
Child custody is a very emotional issue for many divorcing parents. It is heartbreaking to be told that you can only see your child four times a month. It is important to know that the courts have become fairer to both parents and that, with some fight, even a father can win in a child custody case if he is the better parent for a child.
I’m Gene Barton, a Chickasaw County child custody attorney. I have been in your shoes more than once. I am acutely aware of the feelings and concerns that you face in a legal matter involving a minor child. I raised my daughter from my first marriage and have joint custody of two children from a second marriage. One of my child custody cases went all the way to the Supreme Court (dealing with the issue of whether the proper judge heard the case. You can see a copy of the published decision Barton v. Barton ). In the Barton case, fortunately, a good settlement was reached after the case got to the Supreme Court.
For more information on custody court cases, see my Custody Litigation page.
I know what it takes to fight a child custody case in Mississippi family court. If you believe that you will have a difficult custody battle, or if your case involves the challenges of interstate or international child custody, I can assist you. I also handle child custody appeals. Contact my Okolona law office online or call 662-260-6646.
Factors The Court Considers When Granting Child Custody
It used to be that mothers routinely were granted custody of children, but that has changed somewhat in recent years. More mothers work; more fathers are taking on the role of primary caregiver. It’s clear that gender is not as important as parenting ability.
Mississippi child custody law has been significantly shaped by the case of Albright v. Albright. In that case, the court looked at eight factors when determining the placement of a child in a custody dispute. These included:
- Parenting ability
- Gender and health of the child
- Which parent has a willingness and capacity to provide care, and continuity of care (who had more child-rearing responsibility prior to the separation)
- Employment of parents and how that employment would affect the care of the child
- Physical and mental health of each parent, as well as age
- Emotional ties between the child and each parent
- Stability of the home and community
- Moral fitness of the parent (however, moral issues play a less important role than in the past, particularly with regard to adultery)
Once a child is 12, the court gives great weight to the child’s preference if both parents are equally fit. However, the choice of the child and the statements of the child are not conclusive; the final decision is based on the court’s determination of the best interests of the child.
If you are seeking help on a child custody case, I recommend you develop a list detailing why you are the better parent according to the Albright factors, as well as why the child should not be placed with the other parent. I have attached the Albright case for your review. We can discuss this list during your first appointment.
Local Counsel For Clients Outside Mississippi
If you live in another state but your child lives in Mississippi with his or her other parent, you will need to bring your custody case in Mississippi family courts, and you will need local counsel to assist you with that. I have assisted many out-of-state professionals seeking full custody or increased visitation with the child.
International Child Custody
I am also able to assist clients involved in international child custody disputes. If your child was removed from the U.S. by the other parent, your case will involve complex issues involving the Hague Convention. I have handled international custody cases and understand the procedures that must be followed.
Child Relocation Cases
In Mississippi, there is no state statute that prohibits a parent with custody from moving out of town or out of state. The parent is required to notify the court of a change of address but does not need to get permission from the court or the other parent in order to move.
If you believe that the custodial parent’s move with your child is detrimental to the child, and you feel you can prove it is not in your child’s best interest, you may be able to bring a case to family court seeking a change of custody. In such situations, I may enroll the help of experts to build an effective case, based on the Albright factors.
To learn more, see my relocation of a parent page.