Child custody is not a one-size-fits all process which is why the family law system provides resources to help families resolve their child custody concerns in a way that is best for them. That is why families should know how child custody is determined so that parents know what to expect from their process.

Child custody determinations are made based on what is in the best interests of the child. The best interests of the child focuses on what child custody arrangement will foster and encourage the child’s overall well-being, happiness, mental health, security and emotional development as they grow. The child’s best interest standard is used by the family law court to determine what child custody arrangement is best for the child.

What is in the child’s best interest is determined by evaluating a variety of different factors. Factors that are used to decide on the best child custody arrangement for the child include the age and sex of the child and wishes of the child in some circumstances; any special needs of the child and the ability of the parents to meet those needs; the mental and physical health of the parents; religious and cultural considerations; any adjustment to school and community; the need for a continuously stable home environment; relationships with other members of the household and the custody of any children that would impact the child’s custody arrangement; the opportunity to interact with members of the child’s extended family and receive support from the same; and any history of abuse.

Taken together, the best interests of the child takes into account many different important considerations to determine what child custody arrangement would be best for the child. Parents should know about this standard and how it is used so they can have a better understanding of what to expect and reach a child custody arrangement that is best for their child.