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Custody Battles: What Makes One Parent Best in the Eyes of the Judge?

One of three things will happen when you go to Court with a custody battle: either the mother comes out unhappy, the father comes out unhappy, or they’re both unhappy.

It’s very rare for everyone to come out feeling pleased with the decision.

However, if you’re preparing to go to Court and make a case as to why you are the best person to get sole (or majority) custody over your spouse, it’s worth taking a look at what the judge will consider in making the decision. Not all judges are the same—not by a long shot—and there is a strong argument for hiring a local attorney who knows the judges well.

Consider the Judge

Put simply, judges are people, too. Although some of them are highly educated in the field of law and strive to be completely unbiased, some judges will give more weight to certain factors than others.

(This is why I often recommend hiring a local attorney for your case: someone local will know the judges and be able to more accurately anticipate a particular judge’s predisposition).

Here’s an example: let’s say your spouse gets charged with domestic violence (DV). There are some judges that will give tremendous weight to the fact that there has been an accusation of DV and cannot look beyond it in deciding what to do. There are others that will look at the circumstances of the DV and find that it’s not as important as the parent’s successful history over the previous years.

Judges are human. They’re not robots; we don’t feed the details of a case into a machine and wait for an answer to pop out. Every judge has his or her own personal opinion that will affect the case, which is why it’s important to work with a local attorney.

Often, if I’m arguing a situation like the example I mentioned above, I’ll make the case that we have a 400-page novel and the last two pages aren’t very good. (Meaning, a parent has been spectacular for years, and in the midst of a supremely emotional and trying divorce case got upset and ended up being charged with DV). Can we discount that the first 400 pages are excellent? I don’t think so, but some judges do.

Consider the Locale

When looking at potential outcomes for your particular situation, you also have to consider how liberal or conservative the area is. For instance, I had two very similar cases years ago where the mother refused to send her child to visit with the father because the father was “living in sin,” i.e., the father was unmarried but living with another woman.

In Boulder, a liberal city, the mother filed a motion to terminate overnight visits until the father agreed not to have a woman spending the night with him. Her argument was that the children were being raised Catholic, and how can you raise them as Catholic if you’re living in sin?

The Boulder judge said, “I’m sorry, I cannot control the way the father lives his life, he gets to see his kids.”

At the same time, in Jefferson County (a more conservative area), the judge jumped down the dad’s throat so far he knew what he’d had for dinner last night. The judge talked about how inappropriate it was to teach kids one set of morals and then act a different way. This conservative judge found that there would be no overnight visits as long as the other woman was there.

Granted, this was several years ago when things were probably less liberal than they are now, but it’s a good illustration of how judges in different parts of the country may rule differently (even though both cases were in Colorado).

When you’re dealing with something as nebulous as custody, there are many things judges will consider. Everyone has his or her hot points—even judges—and you don’t want to hit a hot point as you’re building your case.

If you’re preparing to go through a custody battle in Boulder County or the surrounding area, let’s talk. It’s important to know your case inside and out to make sure you are 100% prepared to go to Court.

Call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation.