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How are child custody determinations made?

What is the best interests of the child? It may be a term you have heard related to child custody and child custody determinations. The bests interests of the child standard is used to determine what child custody arrangement is best for a child and is worth parents taking the time to understand. The best interests of the child is the guiding focus whenever child custody decisions are made and involves the consideration of a number of different factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

There are many factors that may be evaluated to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Considerations include the physical and mental health of the parents; if the child has any special needs and if the parent is able to address those special needs; the need for a stable home environment and continuity in the child's life; religious and cultural considerations; the adjustment to school and community; the age and sex of the child; and, in some circumstances, the wishes of the child.

In addition, the court will consider the support the child receives from extended family members and the opportunity for interaction with extended family members; other children relevant to the child's child custody arrangement; interactions and relationships with other members of the household; and any evidence, history or pattern of abuse of the child in the home or by the parents such as domestic abuse or drug, alcohol or sexual abuse.

The court considers factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child to reach a child custody arrangement that is best for the child's overall well-being and safety. Parents can help resolve child custody concerns by understanding that what is in the best interests of the child controls the outcome and by also understanding how that is determined.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, "Focusing on the 'Best Interests' of the Child," Accessed Nov. 9, 2017

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