As a parent, you know what is best for your child and intend to make those decisions yourself. When the other parent has opposing ideas of what that means and how much time they should spend with your child, the court may step in. If the court does so, it might not consider what is best for the parents. Instead, it tries to put the needs of the child first. Just as you and your partner differ on what that means, the parties making that decision will have their own opinions as well. 

The Children’s Bureau explains that determining the best interest of the child refers to the deliberation process courts follow to decide on the actions, orders and services that best suit a child. The court pays keen attention to what each parent brings to the table and makes a decision based on how much of the information it believes and how it values the input of each parent. 

Here are some specific factors the court considers: 

  • The importance of making a timely decision on permanency 
  • The importance of keeping the family intact whenever possible 
  • Reassurance that children receive guidance and care in the home 

If there is more than one child in the home, the court typically tries to keep them together. When children bond with stepsiblings from your ex, it might also put the court in a difficult position if the child prefers to be with their stepsiblings. Finally, some courts may even allow the child to make decisions about which parent they spend time with if they are old enough and mature enough to do so.