If a couple has children, any decision that they make needs to take the best interests of that child into consideration. The best interests of the child are met when a decision fosters that child’s happiness as well as his or her physical and emotional well-being. Depending on the age of the child, it may be possible for that child to have input in custody and visitation arrangements.
Other factors that play a role in determining the best interests of a child include whether the child is given a stable home with parents who are mentally stable. A child should not be placed in a home that has a pattern of domestic violence or where parents may use drugs. Furthermore, if the child has special needs, the parents should be able to provide for those needs.
A court may also pay attention to whether a living arrangement is appropriate given the age and sex of the child. Additionally, the religious needs of the child will be taken into consideration. If possible, a child should be allowed to stay in the same school district or in the same part of town regardless of which parent the child lives with. Being allowed to continue close relationships with siblings or grandparents is also considered to be in the best interests of a child.
Those who are trying to work out a visitation or custody arrangement are required by law to create a plan that looks out for the child’s best interests. A family law attorney may be able to help parents create such an arrangement either in court or outside of court. If the parents agree to a plan on their own, it may be approved by a judge, but if the parents cannot put together a plan, the case may be taken to court.
Source: Findlaw, “Focusing on the “Best Interests” of the Child“, December 22, 2014