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The child’s best interests: What are they?

One thing that you often hear people say when talking about how the court makes a ruling in a divorce case is that the court tries to focus on the child’s best interests. This is true, and it marks an important shift in how the courts look at these cases. In the past, mothers and fathers were given more preference, but the court now wants to do what will be best for the child even when that doesn’t align with what the parents necessarily want.

For instance, many parents try to seek sole custody. They don’t want their children to live with their ex. But the courts have determined that it’s usually better for the child to be in touch with both parents and to keep those relationships alive. As a result, courts will usually hand out some form of joint custody, even if that time is not split directly down the middle. The parents may not like this, but the court is putting the child’s needs ahead of the parents’ desires.

How do they make this decision?

This is just one example of how the court looks at the child’s best interests, but you’re probably wondering how they make these choices and what types of factors they’re going to consider. A few examples include the following:

  1. If there are any risks to the child in either house. For instance, the court will consider things like a criminal conviction or evidence of drug use.
  2. If the parents are in physical and mental health that makes them capable of taking care of the child.
  3. If the child has any mental or physical health needs of their own.
  4. What the court can do to give the child a stable and safe living situation.
  5. If there are cultural considerations or religious factors that need to play into the ultimate decision.
  6. If an older child has their own desires and wishes and can express them to the court.
  7. If the gender or age of the child are going to impact where they should live or the type of relationship they have with their parents.

Again, these are just a few examples of common factors that may play into a custody decision when looking at the child’s best interest. It is not an exhaustive list, but it helps to show why you need to be well aware of all of your legal options as you work your way through this process.