The Best Interests Factors
You and your child’s other parent may be able to work out custody and parenting time for your children. If you aren’t able to agree, the judge will decide custody and parenting time based on the best interests of the child. This legal test requires the judge to consider these 12 factors:
Factor (a): The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;
Factor (b): The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any;
Factor (c): The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care or other remedial care recognized under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;
Factor (d): The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
Factor (e): The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
Factor (f): The moral fitness of the parties involved;
Factor (g): The mental and physical health of the parties involved;
Factor (h): The home, school, and community record of the child;
Factor (i): The reasonable preference of the child, if the judge considers the child to be old enough to express a preference;
Factor (j): The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. A judge may not consider negatively for the purposes of this factor any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child’s other parent.
Factor (k): Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child;
Factor (l): Any other factor considered by the judge to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.