How a judge determines the best interests of the child

If parents in South Carolina who are getting a divorce cannot reach an agreement regarding child custody, they may have to go to court. A judge makes a child custody decision using the standard of the best interests of the child, but many people may wonder what factors are important in this determination.

One is the mental and physical health of each parent and the ability of each parent to provide for the child. This includes both physical support, such as food and shelter, and emotional support. The court will consider what arrangement will cause the least amount of disruption for the child depending on the child’s age and relationship with both parents. Older children may have some input into the decision. The child’s safety is considered a critical factor.

Parents can take steps to demonstrate their involvement in the child’s life. This might include showing that they have participated in school enrollment, attended the child’s extracurricular activities and been present in other areas of the child’s life. In most cases, a judge will consider the child’s access to both parents an important element in the best interests of the child. Unless the child is in danger, a judge will rarely consider a child custody arrangement that separates the child from a parent. Relocation may be approved in limited cases where it benefits the child.

Parents may struggle with child custody negotiations during divorce even if they have successfully negotiated property division. It can be an emotional topic for parents, but like a judge, they should try to focus on the best interests of the child. They may prefer a child custody arrangement they are able to negotiate themselves since this allows them to seek creative solutions that suit their own schedules and temperaments and that of their children. Attorneys may assist in these negotiations.