A Judge will always have an interest in ensuring the children continue their education and that the parents of those children have the same goal. It should go without saying, but showing an ongoing interest in your child or children’s educational ongoings will never hurt your case. Be sure to follow your child or children’s education closely. Make sure you support their educational goals; ensure they pay attention to their studies and homework while with you at home; and be sure to stay engaged with their school. Attending parent-teacher conferences and keeping in touch with your children’s teachers and their supporting staff will always be looked upon with a favorable light by the Court system.
A Judge will always take interest in the living environment of your children. “Living environment” can mean several things, but most notably, the Judges will look at whether or not each parent is able to provide a safe and accommodating home for the children. Be sure to keep your home clear of dangerous materials or items. Keep guns locked in safes or in secure places that cannot be reached by children. Keep drugs and alcohol out of reach and sight of your children. Ensure the children’s bedrooms and living areas are well kept and safe from hazards. Always be able to prove that you possess the necessities for your children’s lives – i.e. changing table, beds, bedding, toys, school supplies, seasonably appropriate clothing and anything else your children need to live comfortably.
The Courts will always consider which parent has spent the most time and asserted the most effort into the day-to-day care of the children. Obviously, it is difficult to be a working parent and still manage the day-to-day living of your children when you’re not around, but be sure to take the time necessary to provide a caring parental presence in your children’s lives. Both parents should share as equally as possible the raising of their children, if you want to share parenting time equally in the future. With reward comes responsibility. If you seek equal parenting time, you must share equally in the responsibilities of being a parent.
When determining the best interests of your children, the Judges will certainly consider the financial stability of each parent. This is important both for child support payments from one parent to another and for the ability of either parent to continue to provide for the children while in their custody. Being in a financially stable situation allows the Court to presume you will be able to provide for your children’s daily necessities. It is common for Courts to Order a parent to search for a job if they are capable of working but unemployed or employed in a limited manner. Keep in mind; being jobless does not excuse a parent from providing for their children.
Similar to education and being involved in your children’s past care, the Judges will consider the health needs of your children. Judges will consider which parent has participated most in addressing these needs and which parent is most capable of doing so in the future. Attending doctor’s appointments and having an in-depth understanding of your children’s health conditions can be contributing factors in deciding how much time a parent should have with their children in a Joint Parenting Plan.
The concept known as endangerment weighs heavily with the Family Law Courts. Endangerment is the term used for the evaluation of whether or not a child’s mental or physical wellbeing is at jeopardy with one parent or another. Common factors with endangerment include past criminal history, past and present DCFS investigations, and histories of drug and alcohol abuse. There is no assumption that any of these factors necessarily indicate that the children are endangered in a parents home, but these factors and more will be considered by the Court when determining whether endangerment will be a factor in deciding parenting time. If the Court finds that one parent endangers the Children, the Court will find that that parent’s Parenting Time will be restricted. This usually means that the endangering parent will be limited to “supervised” parenting time.
Another factor similar to past care and health care is Social Activities. Social Activities of the children will be taken into consideration when determining the parenting time of both parents. Oftentimes, the Court will look to the parent that participates most in the Children’s Social Activities as a determining factor when deciding which parent has been most involved with the Children’s day-to-day activities. For example, if one parent had a habit of taking the children to and from sporting events and practices, the Court will consider that as an indication that the Parent has regular and consistent involvement with the Child prior to separation. Remember, a parent’s regular involvement with their Children will go a long way toward determining which parent will have the majority of parenting time.