Family Law

Best Interest of the Child | Do Judges Get It Right?

We always feel disappointed when our clients do not get what they want in court. After pouring time and effort into a case, it can be heartbreaking. We may never feel the brunt of the disappointment like the client, but it hurts. Knowing that feeling motivates us

Occasionally, we have lost cases we should have won. There are other times when we won cases that we maybe shouldn’t have.

Both of those scenarios are rare.  The key to winning family law cases is hard work and preparation.  We’re good at that.

Family law judges have seen every case under the sun. They hear every possible story and every possible argument about why something matters for the best interest of a child. Usually, judges hear the same stories from the same people multiple times. Family law judges see the results of their previous decisions and, hopefully, learn from them.

Family law judges get lied to.  A lot. Many times, there is no real evidence to be seen that can confirm the truth, so a judge is left to depend on their gut. It may sound crazy, but it’s a fact that judges often make decisions based on who they think is telling the truth.

Most family law judges can see past the individuals and understand the entire family dynamic. The parties and their lawyers are focused in on what makes the client look good and the other person look bad. But a family is a lot more than just individuals with good and bad traits. Understanding how a family operates can make otherwise-significant facts less important and could elevate facts that might not seem that important in isolation.

Generally, family law judges are good at what they do.  Most of the time they make decisions that are in the best interest of children.

There are, however, a few recurring issues where a lot of judges might miss the ball, including:

  1. Drugs. Many family law judges apply little or no nuance when weighing drug use. All illegal drugs are given the same weight, which is probably more than they ought to, while prescription drug use is largely ignored.

 

  1. Mental health. Though it is far less than it used to be, there is still a societal stigma about seeing a mental health professional. The stigma can extend to family court, where a judge is suspicious of a parent because of attendance in therapy or a mental health diagnosis. Unfortunately, the parties to a child custody proceeding are often in desperate need of a mental health professional but cannot see one because of its potentially negative effects on a custody case.

 

  1. Parental alienation. There are many judges who do not give one parent’s effort to cut out the other parent enough weight when deciding what is in the child’s best interest. A parent who will deliberately disrupt a child’s relationship with the other parent does not have the child’s interest in mind. A judge is often prone to weigh some drug issue or minor criminal charge or inconsistent employment more heavily than alienation, which is a problem. A parent who leads a clean life but cuts the other parent out will often be worse for the child in the long run.

 

A big part of having a judge make the right decision on your case is having the right representation, including a team of lawyers who are familiar with what certain judges want.

When you hire us, you are hiring specific knowledge about the judges in Central Arkansas and what is persuasive in their courtroom.

Other interesting blogs on the topic:

What are some examples of what is in the best interest of a child?

Arkansas Divorce Myths and Facts

Family Visitation Supervised

About the Author
Charlie Cunningham

Charlie C. Cunningham

Lawyer

Born, raised, and educated entirely in Arkansas, Charlie is passionate about helping Arkansas families through the court system. As a DHS attorney throughout the State, Charlie has helped hundreds of children, parents, and adults achieve positive outcomes through appropriate DHS agencies and services. Charlie understands the seriousness of any legal proceeding that involves someone’s child or loved one, and his…

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