Best interest of the child: know it, live it, (learn to) love it.
It is easy to lose sight of the big picture in the midst of a separation or divorce. Raw feelings of anger, disappointment, and sadness can leave men and women itching for a fight and taking every opportunity to talk about what a poor spouse their ex was during the course of their marriage.
Sometimes these feelings and accusations find their way to child custody and parenting time negotiations, where parents feel entitled to a more favorable outcome based on their virtues and their ex’s perceived lack thereof.
As far as the law is concerned, only one thing matters: the best interest of the child(ren).
The only thing that matters in a child custody case is the best interest of the child(ren). Even in a case where parents are splitting amicably and agree on every major issue, it is still up to the judge to review their decisions to ensure they are in the best interest of the children. Nothing less is acceptable when making decisions for children.
It’s understandably difficult for divorcing spouses to come together and make decisions for their children, but the best outcomes begin with both parties acknowledging what is in the child’s best interest and then devoting their energies and negotiating skills to arriving at a workable parenting time arrangement that reflects it.
In almost all cases it is determined that both parents should share legal and physical custody. The court will err on the side of making sure both parents share responsibility for making legal decisions about a child’s upbringing as well as providing a welcoming home.