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What factors decide what is in the best interests of the child?

Child custody laws are around for many reasons, but one is simply to give some framework to the children after a divorce. These laws can be used to set up a legal agreement about where the children will live, who can make decisions for them or where they will go to school. When deciding this and trying to find a solution that is in the best interests of those children, what does the court consider? Some of the top considerations are as follows:

-- What the child prefers and desires.-- The age and gender of the child.-- The mental health of both parents, along with the mental health of the child.-- Parts of the child's life -- like which school or church he or she attends -- that have already been established.-- Any incidents that could indicate that abuse is taking place.-- How emotionally connected the child is to each parent.-- How well the parents can care for and provide for the child.-- If a large change is likely to be emotionally detrimental.-- How willing each parent is to be involved in the child's life from here on out.

Of course, additional factors that pertain to each specific case will also be considered, as no two cases are the same, but this gives you a general idea of the major things that the court will look at during the proceedings. Make sure that you know exactly how the child custody process works and what legal rights you have long before you have to go to court.

Source: Encyclopedia of Children's Health, "Child custody laws" Nov. 20, 2014

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