No matter where you live or what your issues are with your ex-spouse, every child custody case focuses around something known as the “best interests” of the child. If you and your ex are in a battle over a potential parenting plan, it’s wise to understand how the court views the situation.

The court generally recognizes the sanctity of the parent-child relationship and aims to preserve that relationship as much as possible — with both parents. It takes a very strong reason, like a history of domestic violence or mental instability, for a court to even consider not giving a parent some kind of custody or visitation with their child.

What this means, in a nutshell, is that the court considers the needs and desires of the parents secondary to the needs of the child. The court also has a considerable amount of leeway when it comes to how it determines the child’s needs. Some of the things a judge may consider when allocating custody in a dispute include:

• The ability of each parent to financially support their child and provide for their basic needs
• The ability of each parent to physically care for their child, including issues related to the child’s health or a parent’s health
• The ability of each parent to foster the child’s positive relationship with the other parent
• The existing relationship and amount of interaction the child already enjoys with each parent
• Anything that might expose the child to physical, mental or emotional harm while in either parent’s care

If that sounds like a pretty broad list, that’s because it was designed to give family court judges the maximum range to consider anything that might be relevant to their decision-making process.

Custody battles are always highly charged and emotional situations. An experienced advocate can help you better understand your options and what can be done to obtain a favorable outcome in your case.