What is in the best interests of the child is the primary determinant when developing a child custody arrangement. Child custody arrangements can be negotiated and agreed upon by the parents of the child or may be determined by the family law court. Either way that child custody is determined, the primary focus of child custody determinations is what is in the best interests of the child.
The guiding principle for child custody determinations, or what is in the best interests of the child, focuses on what will ensure the happiness, security, mental health and emotional development of the child. Several factors are considered when determining what is in the best interests of the child. Factors that may be considered include the mental and physical health of the parents; other children whose custody may be relevant to the child custody arrangement; the opportunity for interaction with extended family members such as grandparents who may provide support for the child; and the interaction and interrelationships of the members of the household.
Additional factors that will be considered include the need for a continued and stable home environment; adjustment to school and community; religious or cultural considerations; any special needs of the child; the age and sex of the child; the wishes of the child, depending on the child’s age; any domestic violence in the home or if either parent is abusive; and if either parent abuses drugs or alcohol. There are a number of considerations the court will take into account to ensure that the child custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
It is not only important but is helpful for parents to remain focused on what is in the best interests of the child during the child custody process. Because the child custody process can be emotional, parents should understand the process and how child custody decisions are made to help achieve the overall well being of the child.
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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