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Child Custody & Living Accommodations for Single Parents

Court Considerations for Appropriate Living Accommodations

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Courts will often make child custody and visitation decisions based on a parent's living accommodations. The standard for acceptable living accommodations is based on the child's and the parent's individual circumstances. Considerations will vary by court, by state, and even by judge. Here are a few things judges will consider when faced with a challenge to living accommodations for custody and visitation purposes:

1. Child's Age and Gender

If a non-custodial parent is of the opposite sex of the child, the court may expect the parent's home to offer the child as much privacy as possible.  Additionally, an older child may require more space than a younger child.  A judge will be flexible and take into consideration each parent's unique situation.

2. Number of Children

A judge will consider the number of children involved when determining appropriate living accommodations.  If a parent has a number of a children, a judge might expect the parent to have more space to accommodate the children during overnight visits.

3. Parent's Unique Circumstances

A judge will consider a parent's age and unique financial situation when determining child custody and appropriate living accommodations.  For example, a grandparent with custodial rights may have less money to provide a larger home for his/her grandchildren.  Additionally, a parent who pays child support might not be able to afford a large home to allow for his/her children to have their own rooms. 

4. Child's Ability to Adjust

A child who is accustomed to a larger space may have trouble adjusting to a smaller space in a parent's home.  A judge will consider whether a child would be psychologically affected by a drastic change to his/her environment.  However, a judge's main concern will be the best interest of the child.  As such, a judge would assume that a child will be happy, even with less space, as long as the child has the opportunity to spend time with his/her parent.

5. Safety

A judge will inquire as to the safety of the parent's home and neighborhood. If there's a potential chance of harm to a child in a home or neighborhood, a judge might limit overnight visits to the non-custodial parent's home.
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