Knowing how child custody decisions are made is important for divorcing parents to understand and be familiar with. Child custody is determined based on what is in the best interests of the child which is based on a variety of factors.
Each child custody situation is unique and the family law court will evaluate the factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child . Though the family law court can determine child custody and what is in the best interests of the child, divorcing parents are encouraged to reach a child custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child themselves. Regardless of who is making the child custody decisions, they should always be based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Factors that are considered include the mental and physical health of the parents; any special needs the child has and the ability of the parents to meet those special needs; religious and cultural considerations; the need for the child to have a continuous and stable home environment; adjustment to school and community; and the age and sex of the child and the wishes of the child in some instances.
In addition, the family law court will consider the support the child receives from extended family and their opportunity to spend time with extended family; interactions and interrelationships with other members of the household; other children impacted by the child’s custody arrangement; and if there is any history of abuse. These factors help the court determine what is in the best interests of the child which should always be the guiding focus of child custody determinations.