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Determining the best interests in child custody

Regarding custody disputes, the court determines your parenting plan based on your child’s best interests. Your child needs to come before your feelings toward your ex or any other disputes you may have.

Sometimes the best interests are not simple, however.

Best interests defined

When a court determines your child’s best interests, they are looking for which solutions serve your child the most. The court will assess various factors, including caregiver circumstances and the capacity for you and your ex to parent and maintain the child’s overall safety.

Best interest factors

To determine the best interest, the court often looks at the family integrity and the importance of your child maintaining bonds between both parents, siblings and other family members. Additionally, children need a safe home with medical care, food and clothing. Courts will assess whether each parent can provide a safe, healthy environment that protects kids physically and mentally. The court may determine the parents’ mental health to ensure that they can provide a stable environment.

The best interests of your children can change depending on the age of the child. Older children with fewer developmental needs may be able to voice an opinion or require fewer stipulations than younger children who require more care from either parent. If there is a history of domestic violence from either parent, the court does have to assess the situation to determine the child’s safety.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on the best interests of your children, mediation can help you come to an agreement or to meet in the middle. Generally, finding a quick solution benefits kids more.