Couples with children in West Virginia who are planning to divorce have a lot of aspects to consider throughout the process. Among the most pressing aspects are who will gain custody over the kids. Child custody can be one of the most emotional and difficult items to consider during divorce; however, the focus should always be on the children’s best interests.
Determining a child’s best interests
When the court considers child custody and parenting plans, it does so with the ultimate goal of ensuring the kids maintain a safe, secure and happy life. Most courts and divorce experts agree that children of divorce fare better when they have regular and meaningful contact with both parents, as long as one of the parents is not abusive or a threat to the children in any way. Some of the factors that must be considered when determining child custody are as follows:
- The children’s ages
- The physical and mental health of each parent
- The ability for each parent to care for the child
- Any special needs the child may have
- The adjustments that will need to be made regarding school and other obligations
- Whether there is a history of physical or mental abuse, substance abuse, or any other untoward activities in the home
If the child is old enough, a significant consideration will be the child’s own wishes regarding where he or she would like to live most of the time.
Typically, the courts take into account all of these factors and more when determining child custody or approving a plan the parents agreed to during mediation. In any event, the best interests of the child are of utmost importance, and all parties should work together for the sake of the children. Sometimes, this is not always possible, and divorcing couples in West Virginia should retain the services of an experienced family law attorney in the state for assistance and support for all aspects of their impending divorce.