If you face a divorce, your primary considerations will be the wellbeing of your children and helping them adjust to a new path in life.
In line with those thoughts and the important matter of child custody, the court bases its determinations on the “best interests” of the child.
What it means
Many elements compose a child’s best interests, such as security, mental health, emotional development and, of course, happiness. Both you and the judge hearing your divorce case have these priorities in mind when it comes to matters related to child custody. Remember that any decisions made now affect your children as they grow into adulthood as well as the type of relationship you and the other parent maintain with them throughout your lives.
The judge takes sufficient time to consider many factors pertaining to best interests, including:
- The wishes of your children, if old enough to express preferences
- The physical and mental health of both parents
- Your ability to care for the children
- Work schedules
- The location of the children’s primary residence
- Home environment stability
- Religious or cultural considerations
- Interrelationships with other members of the household
- Opportunity for interaction with other family members, such as grandparents
- Any history of domestic violence, drug use or abuse
- Any special needs a child may have
- Any necessary adjustments to school or community
You know your children best. Keep in mind that if you and the other parent can work together to devise a suitable child custody plan that incorporates the “best interests” the court would consider, you will not need a judge to make such decisions.
Take the time to seek legal guidance. In the state of Pennsylvania, for example, the court favors joint custody with one parent having primary physical custody while the other has periods of partial custody. There is also no gender bias in a custody matter; the court gives mothers and fathers equal consideration. It is always about the child’s best interests.