Unfortunately, divorce is a reality of life and this process is even uglier when children are involved. While the couple commonly has differences that have led to divorce, each parent still loves their children and wants what is best for the children. In fact, this is the standard that the court also uses when deciding which parent to award custody to.
With this in mind, there are a number of factors that relate to the child’s best interest. Understanding these factors is important when preparing for a custody battle, as such situations are never easy on either parent or the children.
What is the mental and physical health of each parent?
When it comes to reasons for divorce, it isn’t always a big fight that leads to this. Sometimes, one parent has suffered from mental or physical ailments that have led to the split. The court also understands that these issues can impact a parent’s ability to raise a child. If one of the parents is mentally or physically incapable of raising a child, the custody will go to the other parent. Of course, these standards are up for debate and the courts will take this into account.
What are the lifestyle and social issues surrounding each parent?
Many times, parents have differences in social standards that often lead to the split. These are also issues that the court will consider. For example, if one of the parents uses alcohol, smokes tobacco, or does other drugs, the court is going to understand that this is not in the best interest of the child and likely award custody to the other parent. Parents should be prepared to understand how these issues affect the future of their children and their custody case because the court closely examines these issues every time.
What is the quality of the child’s education?
Many times, children have been entrenched in one of the communities that happen to be closer to one parent than the other. For example, their school might be near one of their parent’s houses. Their church or extracurricular activities might also be in this area. Children are used to a certain lifestyle and sometimes this lifestyle is closer to the home of one parent than the other. With this in mind, the court will be reluctant to switch up this pattern. Geography and the status quo does matter in custody battles.
Does the child have a preference?
While this doesn’t often happen, sometimes children are a little older when the divorce process begins. The court will decide if the child is able to mentally process this decision and, if able, the child will have a say in which parent the custody goes to. Many times, this happens when children are in their teenage years. At this age, the court may allow the child to voice their opinion. If the court agrees with the child, the court may allow the child to pick which parent they want to have custody.