Child Custody: The Best Interests of the Child

While divorce can be complicated, it can get even more challenging to navigate when there are children involved. During a divorce, the job of the judge is to decide in the “best interests of the child.” At the same time, this phrase is ambiguous, maybe even intentionally so. This phrase has been put together to give judges the credence to use their subjective beliefs about what might be “best” for the children. According to and, there are a few factors that he or she is going to consider.

First, the judge is going to think about the age of the children. Younger children may not be able to adequately weigh the benefits and drawbacks of living with one parent over the other. Once children get older, this factor may start to fade away. Indeed, there has been a rise in the number of fathers who are being awarded custody of his children. Eventually, children will reach an age where the judge may simply ask them where they feel like they should go. Again, at what age children are able to make this important decision is left up to the judge’s discretion. The age of the children is going to play a major role when it comes to  child custody.

Next, the judge will likely consider each parent’s living situation. How the living situations will impact child custody decisions is going to vary from judge to judge. Sometimes, the parent who keeps the home will be granted custody of the children. The belief here is that the children are already comfortable in that home, so why disturb it. On the other hand, the parent who is awarded custody of the children might be awarded the family home. Therefore, this is very much like a “chicken or egg” situation. Regardless, the living situation of each parent is going to play a major role in what is in the “best” interests of the child.

Finally, the parents’ relationship with the children will, of course, be a major factor. Children do not have the same relationship with each of their parents. Often, one parent is more involved than the other. Therefore, if the judge finds that the children are more comfortable with one parent, he or she may decide to award that parent custody. The judge will also take some time to see how the children respond to each parent during the separation period. This will be an important time during the divorce proceedings.

There are numerous ways to interpret the phrase “best interests of the child.” During any child custody proceeding, it is the job of the judge to make sure this standard is met.