During our Raleigh divorce workshops, we take questions from participants who are thinking about or are going through a divorce. Custody questions are among the most common, like this one:
Q: I got worked up to the point of throwing things at my spouse. Will this affect custody? Should I be worried?
A: The early days of separation and right before separation are the worst. Both partners may behave abnormally due to fear, anger, hurt, guilt. Two generally calm people may completely lose it as a marriage begins to break down or as it reaches its end. In a moment of anger, you lost control and threw something (or multiple somethings) at your spouse. Will this affect your custody of the kids?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one clear answer. First, speak to your lawyer. He/she needs to know the details about this incident up front. Second, it may only impact your case if you and your spouse go to litigation over custody. If you and your ex can reach a parenting agreement outside of court, the court will usually accept that arrangement. That agreement can spell out the type of custody each parent has, who pays for what, and a schedule. Shared parenting is on the rise, with more couples choosing to live near each other and split the children’s time more evenly between parents.
According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, only about 5 percent of custody cases go to litigation. If it reaches that point, gender is not the factor it once was. What’s more important is who is the “better parent.” Such arguments can get ugly, and if your case goes to court, that throwing incident could be a concern. According to an article in Newsweek:
“To be sure, the minority of cases that do end up in family court can quickly get ugly—and expensive. The battle over who’s the better parent often ends up as a mud fight where the goal is to prove that the other parent is unfit. Couples who do get this far have likely already exhausted various methods of alternative conflict resolution—some states even mandate pre-court mediation—and are at each other’s throats.”
During a child custody hearing, judges are trying to determine what’s in the best interests of the children. Outside of domestic violence, judges look at several factors, including:
- The child’s relationship with each parent and siblings
- The child’s needs
- The stability of each potential home environment
- The child’s education
- The financial stability of each parent
- Geographical proximity of each parent’s home
- Who was the primary caregiver during the marriage
If your case goes to litigation, your lawyer will help guide you on how to handle the situation. If you have a question to ask a lawyer before you begin the divorce process, schedule a consultation with one of our divorce professionals or visit our Raleigh divorce workshop each second Saturday of the month.