Matters of child custody are almost always highly emotional. When couples can come to an agreement on their own, even if it’s the only thing they can agree on when parting ways, the decision can stay in the hands of the parents instead of the court. If you are in a position where the court decides, you are probably wondering how the court chooses. Or maybe, you already have assumptions about how the court will decide and need some clarity on how the courts really come to these decisions.
Best Interests of the Child
Although other factors can come into play, the primary consideration in determining child custody and visitation is the “best interests of the child”. The court’s criteria may not be what you think it should be or what you would expect it to be. Each state has its own standards, but generally the court considers the following:
- Wishes of the child, when the child is mature enough to express a preference
- Physical and mental health of each parent
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to meet the child’s needs
- Each parent’s willingness and ability to be actively involved in the child’s life
- Continuing a stable home environment, including the child’s adjustment to school and the community
- Interaction with other children in the home and extended family
- Willingness of each parent to foster a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
- History of domestic violence
- Excessive discipline or emotional abuse
There are many other factors that can go into determining what is in the best interests of the child when it comes to custody and visitation. Of course, every family and situation is unique. To learn more about how child custody may be determined in your case, please talk to an experienced divorce law firm today.