The People’s Lawyer

Factors to determine best interests of the child

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Family Law

It is no secret that divorce is often hardest on the children. Getting used to going back and forth between two houses and not being able to do things as a family can take a physical and emotional toll on any child, but their lives can be made even more difficult if the parents are unable to provide them with everything they need after the divorce. Because of these challenges, courts make sure to focus on the ‘best interests of the child’ when coming up with an appropriate child custody arrangement.

Factors used to determine custody

Generally, courts will come up with an arrangement that ensures that the child receives the physical, emotional, and financial stability he or she needs to continue to thrive after the divorce. Courts tend to award joint custody whenever possible, so that both parents share time with the child and the ability to make decisions about the child’s upbringing.

However, the ‘Best Interests of the Child Protection Act of 2021,’ removed the presumption of 50-50 custody, allowing West Virginia courts to have more leeway when deciding how much time the child will spend with each parent.

Some factors courts will consider when determining what arrangement will best suit the child include:

  • Child’s age
  • Child’s health and educational needs
  • Child’s relationship with parents, siblings, and other family members
  • Living environment provided by each parent
  • Parental history of drug/alcohol abuse and/or domestic violence
  • Distance between the parents’ homes
  • Parents’ willingness to cooperate with each other
  • Caretaking functions (e.g., bathing, feeding)
  • Parenting functions (e.g., working, providing shelter)

Coming up with a custody arrangement that serves a child’s best interests can be challenging, particularly if the parents disagree on the terms of the arrangement. A family law attorney can help come up with an arrangement that works, while ensuring that your child is well cared for.