Child custody decisions are based on an important family law standard that considers what is in the best interests of the child. Because it is such an important standard, it is helpful for divorcing parents to understand what it is and how it is used to determine child custody.

The best interests of the child standard is intended to evaluate what child custody arrangement would best promote the child’s overall well-being, growth and development through childhood. The family law court examines a variety of different factors to determine what child custody situation would be in the best interests of the child. Some of the factors may vary by state so it is also helpful for divorcing parents to be familiar with the factors used to determine child custody in their state.

In Colorado, family law courts will look to several important considerations to determine what is in the best interests of the child. Factors the court may consider include the wishes of the parents; the wishes of the child usually if the child is 12 years or older; the physical and mental health of both the parents; the parents’ interactions between one another; the parents’ interactions with the child in the past; the relationships between the parents, siblings and other family members; the home, school and community the child is accustomed to; the distance between the parents’ homes; the likelihood of both parents putting the child’s interests first; the ability of the parents to work together to benefit the child; and a child custody arrangement that would provide the most time with each of the parents.

Because the best interests of the child standard is used to help determine child custody, it is useful for parents to be familiar with what it is and how it should guide their child custody discussions as well. The family law process provides this and other important tools to help divorcing couples resolve concerns such as child custody and other divorce-related concerns.