Often times the child custody aspect of the intra family matters are fiercely contested with parties yielding to emotions and striving to win at all cost. Our experienced DC child custody lawyers are not only an expert in the controlling law and practice, but also factor in the family dynamics and can focus and channel their client’s emotions to ensure favorable court rulings.
The governing principle in awarding child custody is the best interest of the child. There is a legal presumption of joint legal and physical custody among parties. However, the court may grant sole physical custody and joint legal, or both sole legal and physical custody or joint physical or sole legal. The court in evaluating and ruling in custody cases, considers the following statutory enumerated elements:
(A) the wishes of the child as to his or her custodian, where practicable; (B) the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to the child’s custody; (C) the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, his or her siblings, and any other person who may emotionally or psychologically affect the child’s best interest; (D) the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community; (E) the mental and physical health of all individuals involved; (F) evidence of an intra family offense as defined in section 16-1001(5); (G) the capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare; (H) the willingness of the parents to share custody; (I) the prior involvement of each parent in the child’s life; (J) the potential disruption of the child’s social and school life; (K) the geographic proximity of the parental homes as this relates to the practical considerations of the child’s residential schedule; (L) the demands of parental employment; (M) the age and number of children; (N) the sincerity of each parent’s request; (O) the parent’s ability to financially support a joint custody arrangement; (P) the impact on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or Program on Work, Employment, and Responsibilities, and medical assistance; and(Q) the benefit to the parents.
DC child custody and visitation orders once issued, can establish and create routine and finality to the child’s as well as parent’s day to day life and allow for an amicable joint parenting. In the District, chid custody orders may be modified or reexamined by showing of “substantial and material change of circumstances.” Generally geographical changes, recommendations by the chid’s therapist or at times financial or even schooling issues can trigger modification hearings.
The court may also engage services of a therapist or appoint a guardian at litem (GAL) to better assess issues like child’s bond with the parents, child’s wishes, or the level of interactions or interrelationship among parties, if any.
Contact our DC Child Custody lawyers today for free initial case evaluation.