If you are divorcing with children for the first time, you will hear a lot of terms that you may have never heard before. One of these terms is the “best interests of the child,” and it plays a very important role in child custody and support determinations.

In its simplest form, the “best interests” doctrine means that the needs of the kids take priority over all other matters, even parental preference. Before you let this notion alarm you, understand that it is one of the best ways to protect your children throughout your divorce. This is especially when emotions run hot, and the judgment of you and your spouse may be less-than-sound.

The court works hard to remain fair and impartial during all divorce proceedings, especially those that affect kids. One way they do so is by looking at several factors when making child custody and support determinations. Below you will find examples of what the court may look at when making legal decisions about your children.

  • Each party’s parenting skills
  • The strengths and weaknesses of both parents
  • Which parent has been the child’s primary caregiver
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • The work schedule of each parent
  • What type of child care plans each parent has created
  • Any history of domestic violence within the family

If you feel concerned about the “best interests” doctrine or other child custody and support issues, you can find answers by consulting with a lawyer. He or she can provide you with more comprehensive information about how courts prioritize the needs of children in all family law proceedings.