Burke Levy, P.C.

What best interests of a child means in child custody situations

Parents who are divorcing often hear the phrase, "in the best interests of the child" when the courts refer to children of divorce. When looking at child custody options, a Massachusetts family court judge will always weigh in with decisions bearing that phrase in mind. But, what does it really mean for both parents and for their children? A judge will look at a number of factors when it comes to child custody.

If one parent is seeking sole custody, a judge will evaluate the ability of that parent. He or she will look at how well that parent can provide for the child's physical and emotional needs. He or she will also take into consideration the parent's mental and physical health. Consistency is also another big factor since children, as a rule, do not do well with major life changes and a judge wants to keep their lives as consistent as possible. A judge will also look at how kids may be impacted if their existing routine is changed.

The age of the child may also come into play since younger children need more hands-on attention. If one parent has been a primary caregiver, a judge may look more favorably on that parent since the child may have a deeper bond with that parent, although a judge will look at different cases individually. A judge will never knowingly allow a child to be in a situation where his or her safety may be in question.

A Massachusetts attorney may be able to help a client vying for child custody to show the judge he or she has the children's best interests at heart. A lawyer can offer guidance as to how to best present that information to a judge. The attorney may also be able to help a client show that his or her client will ensure the children will have an active, ongoing relationship with the noncustodial parent.

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