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How do courts determine what is in a child’s best interests?

Parents usually know their child’s best interests better than anyone else does. This is one reason why it is beneficial for you and your child’s other parent to work together to create a child custody arrangement. However, it can be difficult for some parents to reach an agreement.

If you and your child’s other parent are unable to reach an agreement regarding child custody, a court may need to decide for you. When a court makes custody decisions, it must prioritize the child’s best interests.

Many factors can contribute to a childs best interests

Courts can consider any relevant factor when determining what your child’s best interests are. However, state laws include guidelines for some of the factors courts may consider when examining best interests.

These factors differ slightly between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The rules that will apply to your child custody case will depend in the jurisdiction for your situation. However, some factors that are regularly considered in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey courts, include:

  • The child’s relationship with close family members
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to cooperate with the other parent
  • How close the parents live to each other
  • The stability of the child’s home environment
  • The stability of the child’s education
  • The child’s preference
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse

Understanding how a court may determine your child’s best interests can help you prepare for the court process. It can also be valuable because it can help you better advocate for your child’s needs as you and the other parent work together to reach your own agreement. No matter who makes the child custody decision, it is always important to make sure your child’s needs are put first.


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