How healthy are the other members of your household?
One often-overlooked factor in a child custody case is the health of the household. More specifically, a Family Court judge can inquire into how healthy the members of your household are. This includes any family member or resident who comes in regular contact with the children, such as live-in grandparents, half-brothers and half-sisters, other relatives, step-parents, other members of the extended family, boarders and sub-tenants. In measuring the best interest of the child, a judge is obligated to consider the child’s overall living environment, including the mental and physical health of the persons with whom he lives.
If the child is exposed to disease or illness, the court may find the environment unsuitable. If the child is pressed excessively into caregiving roles, in order to care for disabled or sickly relatives, the court may think twice about the environment. If the child is in danger because of the violent or dangerous propensities of a mentally diseased family member, the court may again have concerns about maintaining the child custody arrangement.
Custodial parents and non-custodial parents alike should consider the living arrangements wherever the child sleeps at night. If a child has been infected by a contagious disease or injured by a violent or unstable person in the household, the impact of these issues will be all-the-more heightened. Where such situations exist, parents must act preemptively to address the situation before anything unfortunate occurs. This is particularly true when a parent begins cohabiting with a new partner who may have a nefarious past or a previously diagnosed mental condition.
A child’s health and safety are paramount considerations in determining what’s in the child’s best interests. Be sure to consider the members of the household objectively before the Family Court does so.