Whatever the circumstances may be, and however may be at fault, one thing is certain with divorce: it will get ugly. Add children to the equation, and you might think matters would improve. After all, no parent would happily see their child suffer. Empirical evidence, however, suggests otherwise. When a marriage is breaking down and divorce looms large on the horizon, parents often recruit children to fight their cause for them. The children become pawns in the game of life and death that is taking place in the home.

But is this really fair? Should a child’s guardianship be dictated by one parent or the other? Is society at large committing a huge social crime in adopting this rather barbaric way of assigning the custody and upkeep of a child? And, what long-term effects is this having on children, are they more likely to become future criminals?

Divorce and custody
Whenever you made be faced with the prospect of a divorce and subsequent custody battle, the first thing of note is that the court’s approach to both these issues is different. Yes, a number of the problems that you may wish to raise in the custody battle may be similar to those you raised in the divorce. However, the court will approach the issues differently. The rationale for this approach is that whereas divorce is seen as a subjective issue, child custody is very much an objective issue in the eyes of the court, namely “what is in the best interests of the child?”.

In determining what is in the best interests of child in respect of a custody order, the courts have come up with a fairly standard twelve point test:

(1) the level of love, affection and emotional ties between the mother, father and child(ren) at the center of the dispute;
(2) the capacity and disposition of the parties involved in the custody hearing to provide the child with the needed love, affection and guidance, as well as the child’s continuing educational needs, religious needs and creed;
(3) the capacity and disposition of the parties to provide the child with needed food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care
(4) the period of time that the child has lived in a stable, safe, environment;
(5) the permanence of the family unit;
(6) the moral fitness of the parties;
(7) the mental and physical health of the parties;
(8) the home, school and community record of the child;
(9) the preference of the child, within reason and if the child is of an age to express a preference;
(10) whether or not the parents have come to some pre-arrangement or their willingness to co-operate with the raising of the child going forward;
(11) whether or not there is a record of domestic violence; and, if so, whether such was witnessed by the child; and
(12) any additional factors that the court may fee is of relevance.

The outcome of that twelve point test will decide the fate of the child’s custody going forward.

Is this a fair test?
Looking at the test set out above by most courts you may well be left wondering whether or not this is a fair test and whether it reflects the true values of our society. After all, no parent is perfect. Moreover, issues such as whether or not one parent has sufficient funds to cater for a child’s needs can easily be overcome by an order of the court that the other parent pay alimony, with or without visitation rights. So, is it fair that because I, as the father of the child, work and earn an income should have to pay this money to the stay at home mother who has no income purely so that the child has funds in order to meet its needs even if I were not to be given visitation rights to the child. Unfortunately the attitude of the courts is that this is very fair, even if you may consider such behavior a moral crime.

Despite this, few alternative methods of establishing what is in the best interests of the child and awarding custody of the child based on this have been successful. Yes, there may have been one off cases that you could easily cite where success has prevailed, but as a general matter this is not the case. Consequently, for now, the test stays.

Post custody and child behavior
Once custody has been awarded to one of the parents two immediate issues arise which could, if not observed carefully, cause the child to enter a dangerous segment of society, the child criminal.

While children born and raised in families where both parents live at home and actively participate in the upbringing and moral guidance of the child are no immune to becoming criminals, about 90 per cent. of the change in the crime rates between the mid 1970s and the mid 1990s (1973 – 1995) have been accounted for by children born into single-families or those born outside of wedlock. As a recently divorced parent, awarded custody, you are now considered a single-parent family and, thus, the chances of your child becoming a criminal have just multiplied exponentially.

The second major issue that will arise following a custody battle and the settlement of a child with one parent is that the child is far more likely to develop an association with the parent they reside with while ostracizing the parent that is not the stay at home parent looking after their day to day needs, which is commonly known as the Parent Alienation Syndrome (PAS). PAS differs slightly from Parent Alienation (PA) in that PA is the alienation of the child from its custodian parent, rather than access (visitation) parent. Either way, both PAS and PA can cause deep emotional and moral issues in children of divorced parents which could lead them to become more likely of committing a criminal act in the future.

As part of your overall post custody treatment, you should also keep a careful eye on whether or not your child is experimenting with drugs. Criminal lawyers sometimes equate a child’s temptation to start using drugs with trying something new. The flag-bearing example to the child of why trying something new might be good is the parents, who merely by getting divorced and having child custody hearings are themselves going through a phase of trying something new.

Child victimization
One area especially prevalent in any crime statistics is the number of children who commit crimes as a result of having been victimized by their peers. Many criminal lawyers and criminologist will tell you that this is the child’s natural response to being victimized. That may be the case. In any event, statistics indicate that children from broken homes, where the parents of the child continually argue about the custody arrangement, are far more likely to be victimized of bully or peer pressure than is otherwise the case if the child developed in a two-parent home where the parents sided with one and other about the general upbringing of the child. Harmony, it appears, breeds acceptance and easier social interaction, which reduces the chances of being victimized. The flip-side is that children from single-parent families and households where the parents are divorced find it much more difficult to socially interact and make friends. In part this is because they come from different environments. In part this a lack of trust issue on the part of the child in question, who, especially in the case of a child whose parents have divorced, has likely been the center of a war zone between their parents and, thus, it is not totally understandable why a lack of trust issue should arise.

Avoiding the problems
Avoiding criminal problems that may occur as a result of a child being raised by a single parent is difficult. Most criminal lawyers are cautioned against accepting the words of one parent or other over both the other parent and the child. A hybrid of problems exist for the criminal lawyer to determine what story to believe. All sides of the battle are emotionally scarred and have come to the meeting with the criminal lawyer with pre-ordained issues.

Nonetheless, while a criminal lawyer maybe your option of last resort, there are several measures that you can take prior to this that should help you to reduce the chances of your child becoming a criminal, regardless of the fact that may have been displaced by a separation of their biological parents. Included among these are:

– continued good relations between the parents. We often hear of “for the good of the children”, but research shows that this does work. If you do display a united front in how to bring up your children, regardless of whether or not you can agree on anything else, then you will reduce the chances of your child becoming a criminal in the future greatly;

– while you do not need to be a physical presence 24-7, both parents do need to show the child that they love them and that the child is the most important thing in their life. Both PA and PAS are largely born out of a resentment that child has that they are either the cause of the divorce or that they are no longer wanted by one of the parents subsequent the divorce. While the moral issues of whether or not it is a crime to separate a child from one parent are questionable, criminal lawyers will tell you that it is far more important that you concern yourself with the ongoing development of your child by showing them that you are there for them;

– insofar as possible, try not to be overly negative towards your child;

– always make sure that if your child needs to discuss things of importance to them with you, you are there for them;

– always be as honest as you can with your child. Honest and impartial, do not lay the blame for everything on the parent who is absent, take responsibility for what has happened.

Aside from the above preventative measures, it is critical if you want your child to avoid developing into a potential criminal that you involve them in as many community activities as possible. Involvement in community activities should breed in them a trust of those in the community, as well as training them about to how to establish and make solid relationships with other people outside the family. Particularly prevalent in any criminal lawyers approach to the overall reduction in crime is active encouragement that we are gather more socially within our communities.

If all else fails, try counseling for your child. Historical evidence reflects that if you get your child into counseling before they have done something serious enough that it warrants having to consult a criminal lawyer, you will likely to reduce the chances that they will develop into a fully fledged criminal. Here, however, even if you child was to need the services of a criminal lawyer, it is extremely likely that they would recommend that the child enter a counseling program prior to any court hearing so that the court can be shown that the child is trying to rehabilitate.

Child crime
As previously mentioned, criminal lawyers and academics will tell you that approximately 90 per cent. of the shift in crime habits and statistics in the last two decades has been the result of single parent children or children born out of wedlock. With your child now facing the world as a single parent family, what are the consequences if it was discovered that they had committed a criminal act?

First of all, the best criminal attorneys will be able to tell you that a child cannot be held criminally liable until they reach the age of 10. Between the ages of 10 and 14, criminal lawyers should be able to argue that they were unaware of the results of their actions and thus should not be held responsible. The best criminal attorneys may be able to argue this on the basis that the child’s emotional upbringing is stunt as a result of having been raised by a custodian parent. Nonetheless, past the age of 14 and not even the best criminal attorneys will be able to argue that the actions cannot go before a court, unless the criminal lawyer was such so skilled that they argued that the child’s mental age had not developed, regardless of their physical age. Here, however, even the best criminal lawyers have had issues.

Having reason to believe that your child may, then, be the subject of a criminal case you need to turn your attention to whether the action is one in federal law or state law. If you are looking at a state law offense, you may only need to hire a state lawyer; such as Texas criminal lawyer, Houston criminal lawyer or Austin criminal lawyer.

In the event that the actions of your child are considered a federal offense, while retaining the services of a Texas criminal lawyer, Houston criminal lawyer or Austin criminal lawyer may be initially beneficially, it is probably wise that you get the best criminal attorney possible to advise and act for your child rather than one of the best out of a bunch of Texas criminal lawyer, Houston criminal lawyer or Austin criminal lawyer.

With the best criminal attorney on your side, you should hopefully be able reduce the severity of your child’s punishment so that they only either serve a brief custodial sentence in a remedial center, or better yet, only a fine.

It is a very sad reflection of our society that we are now sending more and more young offenders to jail. It is also a sad fact that divorce rates are at records levels. In more than enough divorces what was previously a happy family unit (even if it was an unhappy marriage) becomes shattered and everyone’s life becomes affected. Evidence does indicate that there is a very good chance that children from a broken home are more likely to become criminals. Thus, extreme care should be taken by divorced parents to ensure that their children get the best upbringing possible, so as to reduce the chances of any criminal behavior. Where all else fails, make sure you retained the services of a the best criminal lawyer you can. And as well all know, there are enough criminal lawyers out there making their money from representing children for you to select from.