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The polestar consideration in child custody cases is the best interest and welfare of the child. The Albright factors used to determine what is, in fact, in the "best interests" of a child in regard to custody are as follows: (1) age, health and sex of the child; (2) determination of the parent that had the continuity of care prior to the separation; (3) which has the best parenting skills and which has the willingness and capacity to provide primary child care; (4) the employment of the parent and responsibilities of that employment; (5) physical and mental health and age of the parents; (6) emotional ties of parent and child; (7) moral fitness of parents; (8) the home, school and community record of the child; (9) the preference of the child at the age sufficient to express a preference by law; (10) stability of home environment and employment of each parent; and (11) other factors relevant to the parent-child relationship.
After the parties separated, appellant Dorothy Elisabeth Hollon’s female friend moved in with her in order to share expenses and child care. During the divorce proceedings, appellee Timothy Paul Hollon alleged that appellant was having a homosexual relationship, and sought custody of his young son, who had been living with appellant. The trial court placed great weight on the alleged homosexual relationship and awarded appellee custody of his son. Appellant challenged the judgment.
Did the trial court properly award the child’s custody to the appellee?
On appeal, the instant court reversed. In reviewing the Albright factors, the court found that the majority of the factors weighed in appellant's favor, and held that the trial court placed too much weight on the "moral fitness" factor. The trial court committed reversible error by focusing on the allegations of appellant's homosexual relationship in determining custody of the parties' son. Even though the trial court analyzed the Albright factors, it did not do so with specificity, assigning very few to a particular parent.