In making child custody decisions, a judge is responsible for doing so by taking the child's best interests into account. He or she will consider a number of circumstances surrounding the child's upbringing with the ultimate goal of keeping the child's safety and well being as a priority.
While each state justifies the use of this this standard differently, there is some degree of consensus when it comes to guiding principles states consider to be important to uphold. One such commonality among 28 states is a shared focus on maintaining family integrity by avoiding the removal of a child from what they deem to be their home.
Making sure that any child custody decision made is done so with the goal of protecting a child's overall health and safety, has the strongest potential for being a permanent placement, or that offers the highest degree of care, treatment, and guidance of the child are also equally important. The latter guiding principle champions the idea of placing children in an environment that allows them to grow up to be self-sufficient adults.
Aside from the aforementioned, a more uniform set of guidelines, used by at least 22 different states, is called upon in making determinations as to what is in the best interest of the child. One such consideration centers around how strong of an emotional appeal exists between the child, one's parents, siblings, and other family members.
Other considerations include unique factors which distinguish one parent's fitness versus the other's. This includes not only taking into account which parents is most likely to provide a safe and emotionally stable home for their child, but which is most capable of taking care of the child's dietary, clothing and medical needs as well.
Whether the parents have mental or physical limitations also have the potential to impact custody decisions. The same goes for any potential criminal history, such as domestic violence, that a parent may have on one's record as well.
If you or someone you know is seeking to gain custody of their children, a Hammond, Louisiana, family law attorney is waiting to offer support.
Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child," accessed March 10, 2017