What Goes Into Coming Up With Decisions On Child Custody Court Cases
By Maia Jamile
Cases that revolve around child custody can be extremely hard to resolve. But these cases involve people who go to the courts in the hope that the latter provide some arbitration. A resolution has to be reached, somehow. Most of these cases are decided on by single judges. But we also have some kid custody cases that raise complex legal issues, necessitating the appointment of three or even five judge benches to hear them. You would find child custody cases handled by multiple-judge appellate benches when an appeal is in order and further arbitration is required.
Decisions on child custody cases take most of their cue from the constitution and prevailing statutes related to the subject. You come to learn that there are many constitutional and statutory guidelines on how these cases should be decided. The courts that have original jurisdiction over the cases have to pay close attention to these constitutional and statutory guidelines. They must be wary of the possibility that they are inviting an appeal if they do not follow the guidelines strictly. Judges are going to be putting their reputation and their job on the line if they fail in this regard. They will end up being a laughingstock and an embarrassment if they are found to not have followed the guidelines during the appeal processes. Their professionalism and credibility will be questioned and, soon, even their right to sit at a bench and be called a ‘judge’ would even be put into question. No judge in his or her right mind would even want to entertain that possibility. It is no wonder, then, that they take extra care and try to brush up on their knowledge on the constitutional and statutory guidelines relevant to child custody cases. Often though, this close adherence to the constitutional and statutory guidelines can lead to a situation where the judges make decisions that look odd to the laymen, and this is where things get tricky.
Reference is made to the existing body of jurisprudence when it comes to the task of making judicial decisions on child custody cases brought in court. In fact, most family court judges would hark back to previous child custody cases and looking at the decisions made on those cases. Prior child custody cases’ decisions are then taken by all judges as a binding precedent, consequently becoming their “go-to” when they find themselves handling a similar case. In other words, let us say that a decision has been made on a child custody case by the Federal Supreme Court. That decision will become binding to all family and state courts faced with cases of similar nature. Judges can only depart from such decisions if they feel that the matters before them are ‘distinguishable’ from the ones where the Supreme Court decisions were made.
Decisions on child custody cases would be greatly affected by the various facets and facts of the case, as well as the surrounding circumstances. Therefore, you have to pay close attention to them. Mothers are supposedly the parents who are granted custody of children who are under the age of 10. However, in the event that the mother is incapacitated (e.g. an alcoholic, a drug user, or mentally ill), the court would have to award custody of the kids to the father. Legal precendents, constitutional and statutory guidelines aside, the custody cases should be judged based on their own merits.
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