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Child Custody: Determining the Best Interests of the Child

When child custody and child support decisions are being negotiated, the court often makes its final determinations based on a child’s “best interests.” In the context of family law, this means that any decisions relating to custody, visitation, and financial support payments are made with the intention of benefitting the child first and foremost.  Even if parents agree on a custody arrangement out of court, the state still needs to approve of the parenting plan while considering the child’s physical, emotional and mental needs.

When determining child custody, the court may take these factors into consideration:

  1. The wishes of the child
  2. The age of the child
  3. The wishes of the parents
  4. The child’s relationship with each parent and other family members
  5. The physical and mental health of the parents
  6. Which parent can best provide for a child with special needs
  7. Which parent can offer a stable home environment
  8. How a change in school or community may affect the child’s stability
  9. Evidence of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse against the child
  10. Any history of parental drug or alcohol abuse
  11. Each parents’ willingness to let the child foster a relationship with the other parent

The primary concern of the court is to ensure a child’s safety and overall well-being. In most cases, the court will always try to determine a parenting plan that allows a child to maintain a positive relationship with both parents. However, while the court prefers to award 50/50 joint custody, exceptions can be made if the court has reason to believe joint custody could result in direct physical or emotional harm to the child. 

Seek Legal Guidance

During a child custody case, it’s crucial that you focus on the needs of your child. Overtime, these needs might change, and, if necessary, you can request a parenting plan modification. Contact The Law Offices of Mark R. Hinshaw if you require legal representation or have concerns about your parenting plan. Our West Des Moines child custody attorneys are dedicated to helping parents negotiate fair parenting plans that ensure the well-being of their children and foster positive parent-child relationships.

Call our West Des Moines child custody lawyers at (515) 200-7571 to schedule a consultation.

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