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What are your child's best interests?

You probably have a firm idea of what your child's best interests are. Your ex probably has his or her ideas about your child's best interests too. A Pennsylvania family law court will also have a perspective on the matter. Ultimately, if you're in the throes of a child custody disagreement that goes to court, you'll need to align your perspective with the viewpoint of the court if you want to succeed in your case.

When determining the best interests of a particular child, Pennsylvania family law courts will review the following factors:

The ages, health statuses and psychological conditions of the spouses

The court will seek to ensure that whichever spouse receives child custody -- both spouses in many cases -- has the mental and physical capacity to care for a child.

The financial circumstances of both spouses

The court will seek to ensure that both spouses are employed and have suitable homes to provide food, shelter and necessary medical care for the child. If one parent is lacking in this area, the court may give preference to the other parent during a child custody debate.

The unique preferences of the child

If the child is mature enough, the court may take into consideration what the child him or herself wants. However, the degree to which the court takes this into consideration will be at the discretion of the family court judge presiding over the case.

The spouse who was the primary caretaker

If one or the other spouses played a primary role as caretaker of the children, this spouse will have more power in the child custody proceedings.

In addition to the above, there are other factors Pennsylvania courts will consider -- such as the criminal history, substance abuse history and domestic violence history of both spouses. If you're worried about keeping custody of your child, make sure you know what a court will consider to be your child's best interests before you plan out your legal strategy.

Source: FindLaw, "Focusing on the "Best Interests" of the Child," accessed May 11, 2018

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