People dealing with legal matters want to win. The impulse is even strong within the family law system because personal matters tend to boil people's emotions. However, America's legal system doesn't strictly define winners and losers in family matters the same way that it does in criminal or civil proceedings. If you're going to deal with any questions in this domain, then a family lawyer will want you to know why winning isn't the focus.
Every branch of the legal system needs standards. Standards of proof are one part of the process. However, the legal standards also define what the court is even doing in a case.
Generally, the family courts focus on standards based on best interests and equity. When dealing with a child, the question is always what's in the best interests of the kids. This covers questions about custody, visitation, access, and financial support. When it comes to ending marriages, the court usually wants to equitably distribute assets and liabilities as evenly as possible based on the state's laws.
Best Interests of a Child
State and federal laws recognize that all other things being equal, a child's best interests are served when both biological parents are involved. Consequently, courts don't want one parent to come away as the decisive winner unless something wrong is happening. One parent will typically get primary physical custody because someone has to provide weekly structure for the kid's education and upbringing. The other parent will share custody and be quite involved, too.
Even if one or both parents are out of the picture, the child's best interests still guide all decisions. This governs all custody cases involving grandparents, foster parents, and other family members. A judge wants to find the closest connection that'll ground the child in their family's culture because that's in the kid's best interests.
Equitable relief is the other common standard. A family law attorney applies this mostly to cases involving divorce assets and debts. Equity means that no one should exit a marriage in such a destitute financial condition. This is the basis of spousal support.
Equity is more flexible than the best interests standard. Many states don't offer relief if a marriage didn't last at least a legally-defined length. Also, equity doesn't mean a 50/50 split in most cases. The court looks at both former partners' earnings, assets, medical needs, and living arrangements to determine what would be reasonable.
Contact a family lawyer like Faucette Gary C Attorney At Law to learn more.