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How do judges decide what’s in the best interests of the child?

Going through a divorce and trying to manage all of the issues that develop may not be easy. In fact, you and your spouse may realize this is the most difficult time in your lives—and those of your children.

One of the biggest questions you and your children may share concerns where they’ll live after the divorce. Will it be with one parent or the other? Will their time be split? The best interests of the child will determine the outcome.

“Best interests of the child” defined

Family courts all across the United States carefully consider the actions and orders that best meet the needs of the children whose parents may be divorcing. Judges look at the circumstances that may be affecting the parents, as well as their ability to parent their children. In the end, the judge wants the safety and well-being of the children to be the most important consideration.

An example of the parent’s ability to care for their children may be whether they are capable of providing for the child’s nutritional, hygiene, medical and educational needs. 

Shared custody is generally preferred

Children really need to spend time with both of their parents, whenever possible. As long as both parents are able to provide appropriate care, attention and love to their children, shared custody is usually preferred.

The judge must also consider the parent’s ability to make appropriate decisions about their children’s religious upbringing and their health care. As long as both parents are capable, these duties may also be split.

It’s hard to go through a divorce when there are children involved. It’s even harder when you — and your children — don’t know what to expect. Learning more about how child custody works can make the process easier.

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