Going Through a Divorce? How to Decide What’s Best for Your Child
It goes without saying that divorce can be really difficult. It can be even more difficult when kids are thrown into the equation. As if things weren’t already complicated enough, you and your spouse are now having to figure out what the best situation for your child will be. Who will they live with the majority of the time? Where will their holidays be spent? How will decisions be made about medical care or schooling? The list of questions can feel infinite, so how do you and your spouse decide what the best possible scenario will be for your child as the two of you part ways?
When Trying to Understand What’s Best for Your Child, Consider the Following…
1. The Age and Physical and Mental Condition of Your Child
It’s important to think about your child’s changing developmental needs. When the child is younger, consider who the primary caregiver has been. If the child is older, you might consider which of the parents will better foster the child’s relationship with the other parent.
2. The Age and Physical and Mental Conditions of You and Your Spouse
You can consider both your and your spouse’s lifestyles and social factors. Will your child be exposed to secondhand smoke in one living situation more so than in the other? Are there certain social situations that the child might be exposed to in one of the homes?
3. The Role That You and Your Spouse Have Played and Will Play in Your Child’s Life
Consider the emotional bond you and your spouse have with your child. Has one been more involved thus far than the other? One of the major goals is to disturb your child’s routine as little as possible. When both parents are incredibly active and involved in the child’s life, this can be a difficult situation.
4. Your and Your Spouse’s Abilities to Protect and Provide for Your Child
Ultimately, you want the child to be in a situation where they will be protected and provided for as best as possible. Think of the needs of your child and where they will be better met.
5. Any History of Family or Sexual Abuse
Obviously, where abuse of any kind plays a role in a parent/child relationship, a lack of ability to protect the child is present. This is simply about keeping your child safe.
6. Your Child’s Preference (if He or She is above a Certain Age)
In some cases, children 12 and over and of reasonable intelligence, understanding and experience can begin to have a voice in the decision that’s made.
According to fellow child custody attorneys, Mani, Ellis & Lane, it’s important to arrive at a “parenting plan” where ideally you will be able to reach a parenting agreement with your spouse. As difficult as it may be to look at these considerations objectively, remember that your child’s best interests should be at heart. Consider their thoughts and feelings as well, and agree on an arrangement that they’ll be content with.
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