Divorce is, in and of itself, an emotionally draining affair. It doesn’t get any easier if children are involved. If a couple that shares a child divorces, one of the most important issues they will need to settle is the child’s post-divorce living arrangements going forward.
One of the legal concepts you will come across when litigating child custody is the “best interests” of the child. But what exactly does this mean?
Explaining the best interests of the child
When making decisions regarding the child, the court is basically going to look at what is right for the child and use this to inform its ruling. These child-related issues revolve around financial and emotional support for the child.
Ideally, the court prefers a situation where both parents are actively involved in the child’s life. Realistically, however, not all parents are fit to make sound decisions for their children. And this is where the best interests of the child come in when deciding how to split parenting time and authority for the child.
So, how does the court determine the best interests of the child?
Some of the factors the court will take into account when issuing a ruling that puts the best interests of the child first include:
- The child’s relationship with each parent as well as other persons in their sphere like siblings and other relatives
- The child’s views and maturity or level of understanding
- Each parent’s availability and willingness to be involved in the child’s day-to-day affairs, including the amount of time each parent is willing to spend with the child
- The child’s needs (physical, emotional as well as any special needs the child might have.)
Child custody is a big deal during the divorce. Understanding how the principle of the best interests of the child works can help you reach a custody and co-parenting plan that works for everyone.