How do the courts determine what is in a child’s best interests?

When you made the decision to divorce your spouse, your first concern was probably how it would affect your children. You want what is best for them, but you may also know the courts have their own standard – one regarding the best interests of the child.

You may wonder how the court can figure that out considering they know nothing about you or your family. For this reason, the court looks at certain factors in order to gather the information needed to make a determination. Whether you and the other parent are working out your child custody issues outside the courtroom or relying on the judge to make a ruling, it may help you to know what those factors are before you head into court.

Factors the court considers

Yes, every family is unique, but certain commonalities exist that help a judge determine what constitutes the best interests of the children. The most common factors are below:

  • The age of your children matters since younger ones tend to need more attention and care than older children do. In addition, younger children often need more time to bond with each parent.
  • The court will look at what circumstances will keep the children’s routines consistent. Obviously, some changes are unavoidable, but this refers to keeping them in the same school, on the same schedule and near their friends.
  • The court also looks at the changes that need to occur and whether they will positively or negatively impact each child’s life and routine.
  • You will also need to show the court that you can meet the needs of your children, such as providing shelter, food, medical care, clothing and more.
  • The court will also consider the amount of support and love you give your children.
  • Your mental and physical health also play a role in custody matters.

To put it simply, the court wants to know that you have the ability to care for your children and provide for them in the way they deserve. Even if all you are doing is presenting your child custody agreement and parenting plan to the court, you will still need to prove to the court that what you propose represents the best interests of your children.

Whether you will present your own agreements or rely on the court to make a decision, you will want to make sure you put your “best foot forward,” as they say. To increase the probability of that happening, you would be wise to work with an attorney experienced in California family law.

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