In a perfect world, you and the other parent of your children would be able to reach a child custody decision without any disagreement. However, the world is far from perfect.

When parents are unable to agree on a custody plan, it is up to the court to decide. The court will attempt to make a decision that is in “the best interests” of the child. Because every situation is different, the court may apply several factors to help reach a decision. Here are five factors that courts commonly use in child custody proceedings.

1. Stable home environments

It is upsetting for children anytime parents divorce or split-up. A stable home environment can help a child better adjust to this change. If one parent can provide a more routine experience at home, the court may consider this factor.

2. A child’s individual needs

Some children have special needs or have health conditions that require a certain level of care. If one parent is better equipped to meet the child’s needs, this factor can influence a custody determination.

3. The physical and mental health of the parents

Raising a child is hard work. Sometimes, physical and mental health issues can interfere with a parent’s ability to raise their child. The court will carefully consider any concerns regarding a parent’s well-being.

4. A child’s existing relationships with family members

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a true saying for many families. If a set of grandparents or aunts and uncles play a significant role in a child’s life, this factor must be considered when it comes to a custody decision.

5. The child’s wishes

Children often have some voice when it comes to custody determinations. The amount of weight given to a child’s preferences depends largely on the child’s age and level of maturity.

When possible, a relationship with both parents is important

The law recognizes that children will often benefit from a relationship with both parents. Even if a custody decision does not go exactly the way you would like, there are often options available that will enable you to continue to be part of your child’s life. You can learn more by discussing your situation with a skilled professional.