Child custody is a an understandably significant concern for divorcing parents. Because of this, it is helpful for divorcing parents to understand how child custody determinations are made and how the family law system handles child custody, visitation and co-parenting concerns.
All child custody decisions are based on what is in the best interests of the child. What is in the best interests of the child is determined on a case-by-case basis by evaluating certain factors. Parents are able to agree on a child custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child but if they are unable to do so, the family law court will help develop a child custody plan that is in the best interests of the child.
Factors that may be considered to determine what is in the best interests of the child include the wishes of the child; the age and sex of the child; the mental and physical condition of the child's parent; any special needs of the child and the parent's ability to care for those needs; religious and cultural considerations; the need for a stable home environment; any other children that may impact the child's custody plan; the child's interactions and relationships with other members of the household; the opportunity for interaction with extended family members and to receive support from extended family members; adjustment to school and community; and any abuse in the home.
Any child custody agreement reached will focus on achieving the child's happiness, security, mental health and emotional development. Knowing how the family law court looks at child custody decisions can help parents focus on achieving a child custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child and best for the family.