The 'best interests of the child' and child custody matters

When it comes to child custody in Kentucky, residents may have heard the phrase "best interests of the child," used frequently. Indeed, when it comes to making child custody decisions, the courts will look primarily at what the child's best interests are. What does this mean?

While the laws vary between states, in general there are a number of factors that go into determining what the child's best interests are. For example, if a child is of a sufficient age and maturity level to let his or her wishes be known, that may be taken into account. In addition, how old the child is and the child's gender may also be considered.

Each parent's health, both physical and emotional, may also be considered. Some children have special needs. If this is the case, those needs may also be taken into account, particularly with regards to each parent's ability to meet those needs.

Another factor that may be considered is the child's religious and cultural practices. Children thrive on stability, particularly when it comes to divorce. Each parent's ability to provide a stable home environment may be considered. This includes taking into account the other children and relatives the child may live with. In fact, each parent's ability to give the child the opportunity to interact with extended family may also be considered. The child's ability to adjust to a new school and neighborhood are taken into account, if that is the case.

The child's safety is also important. Instances indicating a pattern of domestic abuse may be considered. If a parent is emotionally abusive or uses excessive discipline, this may play a role in the custody determination. If the parent abuses drugs or alcohol, this may also be taken into account.

These are only some general factors that courts may consider when making child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. A Kentucky divorce attorney can educate parents further on how the best interests of the child will be determined in Kentucky child custody matters.