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How are child custody decisions made?

Parents entering the divorce process likely have many questions about child custody and how their child custody concerns will be worked out. Parents can put some of their concerns at ease by understanding the child custody process as much as possible and what it is based on.

Child custody concerns may be resolved by the parents or may be resolved with the help of the family law court, but in either situation, they are made based on what is in the best interests of the child. It is not only helpful for parents to understand this so they can also focus on what is in the best interests of the child but also so they can better understand what to expect from the child custody process. The best interests of the child standard is aimed at ensuring the child’s overall happiness, security, mental health and emotional development.

The family law court evaluates a variety of factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child which is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Factors the court may consider to determine what is in the best interests of the child include the wishes of the child, depending on the child’s age; the age and sex of the child; the mental and physical health of the parents; any special needs the child may have and the ability of the parents to care for the child’s special needs; religious and cultural considerations; the need for a stable and continuous home environment; the relationships the child has with other members of the household; the support of the community and opportunity to interact with extended family members; adjustment to school and community and if there is any history of abuse.

What is in the child’s best interests varies by situation and circumstance which is why it is helpful for parents to understand how child custody decisions are reached. Using the best interests of the child standard can help the family law court and parents develop a child custody plan that is best for the child and family.