When facing divorce, each person may have a particular concern that jumps to the forefront of his or her mind. For you, you may have immediately thought of your children, and in particular, how custody arrangements would work out. You may not have any specific terms in mind as of yet, but you certainly want to make sure you understand what to expect.
Depending on your specific circumstances, you may have many options for coming to child custody terms. Of course, a phrase you may find yourself hearing often is “the best interests of the children.” You may think that as the parent, you would know what is best for your kids, but the court may view certain aspects differently.
What are best interests?
When it comes to making custody arrangements, the court will want to ensure that the children obtain an arrangement that allows them to feel happy and secure while also allowing them to have an environment that proves beneficial to their mental health and overall emotional development. Typically, this desired outcome is achieved by having children remain in contact with both parents and working to develop strong relationships with each.
What does the court consider?
Because each case differs from one to the next, no set standard for “best interests” truly exists. However, certain factors can help the court determine what the best outcomes for each case may be. Some of those factors include the following:
- Religious considerations
- Children’s ages and genders
- Children’s wishes, if old enough to have a reasonable preference
- Relationships with other members of the family
- Whether evidence of any type of abuse exists
- Special needs of any of the children
- Availability of a stable home environment
- Mental and physical health of the parents
A number of other factors may also go into consideration when the court has to make an ultimate decision. Of course, you may want to keep in mind that if you and the other parent have an amicable relationship, you may have the ability to come to terms without the direct input of the court. However, the court would still need to approve the plan for it to remain legally binding.
How can you make the best decisions?
You understandably feel overwhelmed by the idea of making custody decisions or of having the court make such decisions. One of the best steps you can take when it comes to this type of situation relates to obtaining the right information. Rather than attempting to forge ahead on your own, you may wish to enlist the help of an attorney who can help you understand your options.