Modern divorce courts often focus on the child’s best interests when making decisions. The parents’ opinions and desires are also taken into account, of course. But the final decision will be the one that the court believes will be best for the child.
For instance, two parents may both want sole physical custody of their child. But the court may decide that it would be better for the child to see both parents, leading to a ruling of shared custody.
That being said, parents sometimes wonder how the court determines what would actually be best. As parents, they do know their child better than the court. To address this, the court has a lot of different factors that they take into account, gathering evidence to determine what would be optimal in each case.
10 potential factors
Every divorce case is unique, of course, and it will have its own unique factors. But below are 10 examples of some factors that are often used:
- The parents’ age and ability to care for the child.
- The child’s age and their wishes, if they are old enough.
- Any special needs that the child might have.
- The mental and physical health of the parents.
- The parental relationships and roles from prior to the divorce.
- Cultural and societal influences.
- Proximity to extended family members, friends and a school system.
- The living conditions that both parents would offer to the child.
- Potential religious considerations.
- Any history of abuse or criminal activity by the parents.
It’s very important for parents to understand what the court is looking for and what factors are going to be most important when dividing parenting time and decision-making ability in a divorce case. They also need to know about their legal rights as parents and what steps they can take at this time.