In custody cases, courts focus on child's best interests

Divorces rarely bring out the best in people and often the individuals who suffer the most during the process are the children of the separating couple. While their parents are entrenched in a battle to sever all legal ties with each other, often children become pawns in hostile child custody disputes. While courts often have the difficult responsibility of deciding which parent should serve as the primary caregiver to the children after the divorce, circumstances do occur when neither parent is fit for such an undertaking.

The Hollywood divorce of movie star Charlie Sheen and his ex-wife Brooke Mueller threw into question which unstable parent should receive custody of the couple's young twin sons. With both Sheen and Mueller suffering from various alleged addictions and engaging in questionably dangerous public behavior, a family law court recently granted custody of the boys to Sheen's previous wife, Denise Richards, while the boys' mother completes a stay at a rehabilitation facility.

Richards is the mother of Sheen's two young daughters, who are half-siblings to the twin boys placed in her care. While this very public custody matter is somewhat unusual with regard to the notoriety of the twins' parents, it does illustrate that family law courts will look for safe, caring custody environments for children, even if that means the children will not be in the custody of their biological parents.

While suffering from and receiving treatment for addictions do not preclude parents from gaining custody of their children, determining the best interests of the children in a divorce case will guide a court's determination of who shall receive the kids. While some separating couples may amicably agree to a reasonable custody arrangement for their children, family law professionals can help people going through divorces to protect their rights to retain custody of their children.

Source: Us Magazine, "Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards Go to Court Over Custody of Brooke Mueller's Twins," Nicole Eggenberger, May 7, 2013

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