How Is Child Custody Determined in the District of Columbia?

By Barkat Law Firm

When issuing a custody order in the District of Columbia judges are required to make findings on what the best interest of the child would be. The judges use a number of statutory factors to consider what is in the “best interest of the child”. The factors the judges consider are:

  • the wishes of the child where practicable;
  • the wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to the child’s custody;
  • the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parent or parents, his or her siblings, and
  • any other person who may emotionally or psychologically affect the child’s best interest;
  • the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  • evidence of an intrafamily offense;
  • the capacity of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child’s welfare;
  • the willingness of the parents to share custody;
  • the prior involvement of each parent in the child’s life;
  • the potential disruption of the child’s social and school life;
  • the geographic proximity of the parental homes as this relates to the practical considerations of the child’s
  • residential schedule;
  • the demands of parental employment;
  • the age and number of children;
  • the sincerity of each parent’s request;
  • the parent’s ability to financially support a joint custody arrangement;
  • the benefit to the parents.

The court will consider all the above factors that are relevant to the case, any other information that would be relevant to the best interests of the child, and then make a custody determination. In some cases where the court has already issued a custody order, then you will have to show the court why they should change their original order. You can read more about that scenario here.