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Family law: Interpreting children's best interests

Perhaps, you and your spouse have determined that your marriage is no longer sustainable. You can count yourselves among hundreds of other Ohio couples who are currently having similar thoughts about their own relationships. Divorce is definitely not easy and, when children are involved, can be quite stressful. In all matters of custody, visitation and support, the court has your children's best interests in mind.  

Problems can arise, however, if you and your spouse disagree about what is best for your kids. Whether you are writing the terms of your own co-parenting plan or you have determined a need to litigate the situation, the court must either approve your plan or make decisions on your behalf, as needed. To better understand the court's thought process when making such decisions, it helps to seek clarification about how judges typically interpret children's best interests.  

Ability to provide for your children's needs is a top concern 

The judge overseeing your case will undoubtedly want to know that you are able to provide for your children's physical and emotional needs. Especially if you are seeking sole custody of your kids, you must convince the court that you are able to fulfill your duties regarding basic needs, such as clothing, food and shelter, as well as emotional support and daily parental guidance.  

The court thinks children fare best with consistency and routine 

If your work schedule fluctuates, you travel a lot or your general lifestyle might be something the court would consider unstable, it is less likely that the judge will rule in your favor for custody. To the contrary, the court is of the opinion that children of divorce fare best when parents provide a sense of normalcy and routine in their daily lives.  

Children must be safe 

If you are struggling with a substance abuse problem, you may have to get help before you can request custody of your kids. On the other hand, if you are not the one with the problem and you believe that your ex's presence is somehow a detriment to your children's well-being, you can bring the matter to the court's immediate attention, as children's safety is always a top priority.  

Personal opinion 

Ohio law and the laws in other states provide guidelines for judges tasked with making child custody decisions. However, your case comes down to the individual discretion of the judge overseeing the situation, which means that his or her personal opinion is going to factor in. The more evidence you can provide to show that, not only are you a fit parent but living with you is what is best for your children, the greater your chances will be to win a custody dispute.

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