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How a court determines the best interests of a child

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Parenting Plans And Parenting Time

When making a custody decision, a Nebraska court will prioritize the best interests of a child above all else. However, the best terms for the child depend on the details of the individual situation, and a court will have the responsibility of carefully evaluating all factors in order to reach the most beneficial conclusion. A parent may find it beneficial to learn more about what can affect a child custody case and how the court decides on the best interests of the child. 

There is no one simple solution to custody concerns. All custody and visitation decisions should prioritize the needs of the kids above all else. When parents are unable to reach a decision on child custody on their own, the court will make the final determination on visitation, legal custody and physical custody. All agreements created out of court are subject to review and approval by a court as well, in order to ensure the terms are in the best interests of the child. 

The best interests standard 

The court’s priority will be protecting the emotional, mental and physical well-being of the child over everything else, even the preferences of the parents. Some of the factors that influence a court’s decision include the following: 

  • Any confirmed evidence of abuse, neglect or substance abuse problems 
  • Ability of parents to provide a stable and safe home environment 
  • Ability of parents to care for all of the needs of the child 
  • Preferences of the children, if they are old enough to express opinions 
  • Adjustment of children and desire to remain in the same school or home 
  • Mental and physical health of the parents 
  • State of the living accommodations of each parent

These are a few examples of how the court will carefully evaluate every aspect of the child’s current situation and other factors in order to reach the best decision. Each parent has the right to petition the court for specific things that he or she believes will contribute to the best possible outcome for the child. 

Think long-term 

It is easy for a parent to lose sight of what is really important when going through a divorce. Emotions, such as anger or frustration toward the other parent, can influence important custody or visitation decisions, but this is not effective or prudent. It is best if a parent can set aside temporary feelings and focus on what will be best for his or her child long-term.