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  4.  » How do courts determine the “best interests of the child?”

Cooperation between parents may prove difficult during a divorce. In addition, custody decisions may put parents on edge through the court process.

It may help to understand how the court thinks when it comes to deciding custody. One of the standards used by Louisiana courts is what is in the children’s best interests. While vague, this allows judges to examine evidence and, in some cases, get insight straight from the children involved.

What do the best interests of the child mean?

The foundation of child custody cases revolves around a standard that establishes what is in the children’s best interests. This means the judge puts the needs of the children above all else. When looking at physical custody of younger children, the court may grant more time with the primary caretaker to ease the children’s transition. In situations where the children are teens, the judge may ask them who they want to live with and why.

What does the court consider?

When deciding custody, the court takes a close look at the relationship between the parents and children and whether allegations of misconduct against either parent exist. If not, the court typically errs on the side of giving equal legal custody to both parents. Legal custody enables both parents to make decisions on behalf of their children. Physical custody is a separate issue and the time with both parents is not always equal. However, the court considers co-parenting in the best interests of the children. This enables parents to develop healthy relationships with their kids, which, in turn, eases the psychological consequences of divorce on children.

Deciding what is in the best interests of children requires the court to consider many factors. If the parents choose to compromise and agree, the court prefers to support the agreement rather than decide.