As a parent, the most important part of the divorce procedure for you will be sorting out child custody. In an ideal world, you and your spouse will be able to negotiate amicably and come up with an arrangement that suits all parties, especially the child. The court will then sign off on the custody agreement if it is suitable.
If negotiations don’t work out, then the court will step in and come to a ruling that they believe is in the best interests of the child. The precise definition of this varies from state to state, but there is some consensus in particular areas. Outlined below is a more in-depth explanation of the meaning behind the best interests of the child.
Safety comes first
The first and most important factor that the court will consider is the safety of the child. If there is anything that could put the child at risk, then the court will come to a ruling that reduces that risk. For instance, if one parent has a history of drug abuse or violence, the court may order that visitation only occurs on a supervised basis. They even have the power to stop visitation altogether, although this is generally a last resort.
A stable routine
It is widely agreed upon that the more stability a child has the more likely they are to thrive. Divorce can be turbulent in itself, so the court will seek to make post-divorce arrangements as stable as possible for the child. Typically, they will prefer that the child stays in the same house, attends the same school and is cared for by the person who has ordinarily been the primary caregiver.
During custody proceedings, it’s vital that you provide the court with a positive image of your parental ability. Having legal guidance behind you will help ensure that you and your child walk away with the best possible plan.