According to ChildWelfare.gov, courts use the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody. That means the ultimate custody arrangement best supports the child’s overall health and well-being.
While specific laws vary from court to court, there are quite a few universal factors the courts consider when making these decisions. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for your court hearing.
The mental and physical health needs of the child
A major part of child-rearing entails seeing to the mental and physical health of the child. This can include taking the child to medical appointments and ensuring any symptoms or ailments receive timely treatment. Parents must provide this care efficiently, particularly if the child has advanced special needs.
The mental and physical health of the parents
Just because a parent has a physical or mental health ailment does not exclude them from custody and visitation arrangements. However, any illnesses or conditions that prevent parents from providing sufficient care can affect the court’s decision.
The emotional relationship among the family
Courts are reluctant to remove children from homes where they have strong emotional ties to others. In this case, the court may choose to award sole physical custody to one parent, while the other will receive a suitable visitation schedule.
The ability of the parent to provide basic care
Basic care includes the provision of food, clothing, and shelter. In order for a parent to receive custody, they must establish that they are capable of providing basic care.
Courts can also ask the child at the center of the dispute for their input. However, the court will take the child’s age and maturity level into consideration when seeking such input.