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How are the best interests of the child determined?

When deciding your child custody case, the court will consider factors to determine the best interests of your child. Although you and your child’s other parent want the best for your child, you may not agree as to what that looks like during or after a divorce. In such cases, the court often steps in to make decisions regarding the responsibilities and time spent with your child.

Understanding what the courts take into account when determining custody may help you prepare.

Parental factors

Several of the things considered by the court in determining custody relate to the parents. According to state law, to decide child custody cases, the court will evaluate each parent’s capacity and willingness to encourage and enable a close and ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent. Additionally, the court also factors your and your child’s other parent’s mental and physical health, as well as your moral fitness. A history of or evidence of domestic violence or other such issues may also play a role in deciding your child custody case.

Child factors

The court will also factor in issues relating to your child specifically. For example, the court may look at issues such as your child’s current home, school and community ties; the length of time your child has lived in a stable environment; and your child’s age and developmental needs. When appropriate, the court also gives weight to the preferences of children in such cases.

Working with your child’s other parent and the court, you may develop a custody agreement and parenting plan that suits the needs and interests of your child.