Providing a safe harbor for kids during divorce can be difficult. Particularly if violence or abuse are part of the mix. Abuse takes a variety of forms. This includes verbal, emotional, and physical. Courts consider this when ruling on custody cases.
If a child lives in a situation where they endure constant fights and long term conflict, parents don’t only affect each other. They also negatively impact the child’s well being.
The court’s objective when deciding custody issues is to act in the best interest of the child. That takes precedence over all other concerns.
While the court wants to hear all relevant facts that pertain to custody in order to determine what is truly best for the child—children are not allowed to choose where they live after a divorce.
Guardian Ad Litem and Custody
Custody cases often include the appointment of a guardian ad litem. A GAL is an individual dedicated to representing the child(ren).
The GAL interviews the child(ren) and may factor their wishes into their recommendation to the court.
There is a persistent rumor that children at the age of 12 years old can decide where they want to live. This is false.
In the state of Oregon, after conducting an investigation, the GAL proposes a plan to the court. If the case is complex, or serious physical or emotional issues are present, the court may also appoint a Custody Evaluator to provide an in-depth analysis of the situation.
Divorce often feels like a negotiated war. One of the biggest battles is having to confront the new reality and living situation with your child or children. This new beginning takes some work to polish the scratched surface and make a smooth transition into a new living situation, but it is well worth the effort.
Below, listen to our managing attorney in Portland, Colin Amos, talk about custody and divorce.
Related Reading: The Best Interest of The Child