A custody battle puts the child(ren) right smack in the middle of the spouses’ battle. Spouses must consider why they are fighting for custody. Is it fighting for custody or fighting so that the other spouse doesn’t have custody? Is it in the best interest of the child(ren)?
If parents engage in custody battle or dispute, the court will take into consideration the best interest of the child when making a decision. If the court feels neither parent is acting in the best interest of the child, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to help in making decisions on the behalf of the child.
Depending on the age of the children, their wishes may or may not be taken into consideration. In California, the court listens to the wishes of the children. A 14-year-old child can usually have significant input into the parenting plan.
If the parenting situation presents an obvious issue affecting custodial rights of one parent over the other such as in substance abuse or physical abuse, a court-ordered independent evaluation called a “730 evaluation” will probably be ordered. A court-appointed mental health professional conducts the evaluation. A thorough evaluation can include interviews with all the parties involved (individually and with the parent and child together); psychological testing of both parents and the child; review of school records and or conversations with teachers; review of medical records and developmental history; review of legal records, such as the papers filed regarding the divorce, any possible domestic disputes and any criminal records of either party involved. Be prepared for the evaluation to take at least four months, if not longer. Be prepared for a time-consuming and very costly battle.