Parents typically want what's best for their children. That is true whether the parents are together or apart. Even if parents don't see eye to eye on all matters, they are likely to agree that they want to provide the conditions they feel are important for ensuring that their children grow to become respectful, responsible and productive members of society.
However, in the eyes of the law, parents are not the only players in this scenario. While the adult relationship is changing, there is an obligation to make sure that the children of the split continue to have the support they need - not just to survive, but also to thrive. That is a child's right, and to be sure that that his or her rights are protected and the state's interests are represented, courts weigh in before approving final custody determinations.
Factors in play
The top priority that drives custody decisions is what is in the best interests of the child. How best interest is defined is subjective. To bring some measure of objectivity to the process, the courts consider several factors. These include the following:
· The child's wishes (where the child is found to be of an appropriate age and maturity)
· The parents' wishes
· The nature of relationships with others in the household (this would cover each parent, siblings and others in the home)
· The child's adaptability to any lifestyle change that might result
· The child's overall mental and physical health
· The mental and physical health of the parents
· The parents' attitudes toward each other
· Whether the adults are prepared to work collaboratively in fulfilling their roles
This clearly covers a lot of bases and the terms and processes used by the courts can leave parents confused, frustrated and at odds with each other. For clarity's sake and the sake of the best interests of the children, it's wise to consult with skilled legal counsel.