Child custody is always based on what is in the best interests of the child which is important for parents to keep in mind as they negotiate their child custody agreement. How the best interests of the child standard is determined is helpful information for parents to have.
Child custody factors that are used to decide what is in the best interests of the child include the age and health of the child; the emotional ties between the parents and the child; the ability of each of the parents to care for the child; the child’s ties to their school, home and community and the need to maintain consistency for the child; and any history of abuse such as domestic abuse or substance abuse. The overall goal of the child custody process is to reach a child custody agreement that promotes the overall safety and well-being of the child.
Each child custody agreement is different and what is in the best interests of the child is different. Both physical and legal custody of the child must be determined. Physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with. Legal custody refers to which parent makes important decisions for the child such as medical, educational and religious decisions. Both types of custody may be joint, or shared between the parents, or sole which allows for one parent to retain physical custody of the child or make decisions for the child.
Parents going through the divorce process may have understandable concerns and worries about the child custody process. Understanding the different child custody options and how what is best for the child is determined can help parents reach a child custody arrangement that is best for their family and addresses their concerns.