Even if you have never been involved in a child custody dispute, chances are you have heard the phrase, “What’s in the best interest of the child?”
As discussed in an earlier blog, a guardian ad litem appointed to a child custody matter uses this question as the paramount guiding light in making key decisions about a child’s future. In fact, speaking as a parent myself, any decision any parent makes, including my own, would not be ill-served by asking this question, “What’s in the best interest of my child?”
So, it should come as no surprise that when faced with a child custody dispute, a Family Court Judge has the discretion to consider a great deal of factors when determining child custody.
There is no litmus test, no decisively indicative test by which a Family Court Judge can use. With family, with children, it’s always personal. And that is why the Family Court Judge has a great deal of discretion and a very big job in looking at and deciding custody matters.
Some of the factors to be considered in determining what’s in the best interest of the child include, but are not limited to:
- The mental and physical health of the parent(s)
- The mental and physical health of the child
- The parents’ and the child’s religious faith and cultural backgrounds
- The presence of domestic violence, physical abuse or sexual abuse by either parent or in the home
- The child’s preferences
- The parents’ desires
- The current and past relationships and interactions with the child and family members
- The child’s needs and the parents’ abilities to meet the child’s needs
- The parents’ abilities to be involved in the child’s life
- The history of a parent to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent
- The way each parent interacts with the child
- The parents’ tendencies to manipulate the child or coerce the child into negative behavior
- The parents’ locations in proximity to the child’s current living arrangement
- The condition and stability of the parents’ living environments or homes
- The actions of the parents in depicting the other parent in a negative light to the child
- And, the usual catchall factor, any other factors the court deems necessary
If you are facing a child custody dispute, know that the myriad of factors looked at in determining what’s in the best interest of your child means the court will delve into your life, the other parent’s life, and your child’s life.
If you have questions or concerns about a child custody case, contact our team at Hyde Law Firm, PA with your matter and see whether we can be of service to you.