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How does the best interests of the child help determine custody?

At times, the way that child custody arrangements are reached may seem confusing or unclear to parents which is why it helps for them to understand the standard that guides child custody determinations. The best interests of the child standard guides child custody decisions so parents should understand what the standard means and what it means for them when applied to their child custody situation.

In general, the child's best interests standard takes a look at what child custody arrangement would most benefit the child's overall well-being, sense of security, mental health, emotional development and happiness as they grow into adulthood. The family law court carefully evaluates a handful of factors to help them reach a determination as to what child custody arrangement would be in the best interests of the child. Though certain factors are considered, each decision is specific to the circumstances of the child's family.

Factors that may be considered when determining the best interests of the child include the age and sex of the child when appropriate; and special needs of the child and if the parents are able to meet those needs; the mental and physical health of the parents; the need for continuation of a stable home environment; other children whose custody may impact the child's custody arrangement; interactions and relationships with other members of the household; support and opportunity for interaction with members of the child's extended family; any adjustment to school or community; religious or cultural considerations; and any evidence of abuse.

To reach a child custody arrangement that fosters, furthers and promotes the best interests of the child, the family law court evaluates a number of considerations that are useful for parents to consider as well when working on their child custody arrangement. Parents should also be familiar with the family law tools that can hep guide them through the child custody and other concerns such as the best interests of the child standard.

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Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White
30 North King Street
Leesburg, VA 20176

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