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“Train up a child in
the way he should go
and when he is old,
he will not depart
from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

Factors affecting a child's best interests in a divorce

The decision to end a marriage is not one most Dallas couples take lightly. It comes with many ramifications, such as dividing up property and assets, changing names and finding new accommodation. However, the most important impact divorce can have is on the lives of any children involved. It means going from a two parent house to a single parent house post divorce, which can be difficult for all parties. And perhaps the most important decision divorcing couples and the court have to make is determining where the children live.

The overriding concern for all parties in making a child custody agreement is the child's best interest. Dallas residents may have heard of this phrase, but what does it actually mean?

A decision revolving around a child's best interests means ensuring the child is happy, secure and emotionally stable. Even though the best thing would be for the child to have a healthy, close and loving relationship with both parents, this is not always easily achieved in a divorce, and therefore this is the ultimate goal of a child custody arrangement.

Even though it is not easy to define what the "best interests" theory actually entails, a few factors have been outlined on FindLaw as being essential to the decision. For example, if the child is old enough to express a preference, then the child's wishes are certainly taken seriously in a child custody determination. Otherwise, the parent's mental and physical health, religious and cultural beliefs, residential stability and interaction with other members of the family are all taken into consideration. The parent's discipline methods, alcohol and drug use and emotional abuse are also factors that weigh in on the decision.

There are also other factors that can be considered for determining where the child's ultimate happiness lies. An experienced family law attorney can guide Dallas residents through the legalities of the matter and try to help both parties reach a decision that reflects and protects everyone's best interests.

Source: FindLaw, "Focusing on the 'Best Interests' of the Child,", accessed on Aug. 5, 2014

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