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How do courts determine the ‘best interests of a child’?

Throughout the court system in United States, including the courts in Massachusetts, one of the primary objectives is to protect any children involved in a divorce. The courts understand that a divorce has the potential to affect children, and it should come as no surprise to understand how or why.

It is not uncommon once a relationship begins to sour, that spouses begin lashing out at each other. This could lead to fights or verbal disagreements. If there are children who witness their parents fighting or arguing, they may become upset or confused. If the disagreements lead to domestic violence, it can be especially traumatizing for the children. The courts take domestic violence very seriously and will take it into consideration when making a decision regarding child custody.

Humans, by our very nature, are generally wary of change. For children, a disruption of the norm has the potential to cause harm to a child’s psyche. Although a divorce will inevitably lead to changes in a child’s life, there are things that can be done to keep these changes to a minimum. This is why the courts will generally allow a custodial spouse to stay at home with the child or children.

As you enter the courts to discuss your divorce issues, if you are seeking child custody, it is important to try to prove that a child living with you is in the best interests of the child or children. This is not always easy, but you can likely improve your chances by having a strong family law legal team at your side.

Source:, “Focusing on the ‘Best Interests’ of the Child,” Accessed June 18, 2017