You and your spouse have decided it’s in the best interest of your family to get a divorce, but the courts might step in and decide what’s in the best interest of your child going forward.

Divorces can be hard on everyone, especially children. But your kids won’t be alone, with a study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau showing that about one-quarter of children in the U.S. live with a custodial parent. But how the court decides which of the parents gets custody boils down to the best interest of the child. Knowing what that entails can make a big difference when it comes time to state your case.

Defining the best

The tough task of deciding the future of your child can include near-endless facets, but there are a few essential items the courts will likely consider:

  • Abilities: Evidence that you can look after your child can go a long way. The courts are probably looking to see if you appear mentally and physically up to the challenge, can meet emotional and financial needs and can give love and guidance.
  • Actions to date: What you’ve done so far can be a big indicator of what you’ll do in the future. Make sure the court knows what big responsibilities you already handle in the child’s life, and big decisions you’ve made on their behalf.
  • Consistency: A divorce can mean significant changes, but keeping things as close to normal for a child will likely lead to a less jarring shift. A judge may not think highly of moving to a new home, altering access to extended family or changing schools.

The courts may take some convincing that you’re the best parent for the job, but having a solid understanding of the requirements could go a long way in showing your fitness. Get ready to present your case for the sake of your child and get the guardianship you deserve.