The best interest standard is obviously very broad, so our courts can consider a whole host of factors in determining where they believe the children should live primarily. A lot of times, these cases focus on the history of what each parent’s role has been within the family. For example, do we have a parent who has assumed the primary role of raising these children, of waking them up in the morning and feeding them, getting them to school and to the doctors’ appointments, dental appointments, and participating in the school activities?
In some families, there has naturally been one parent who has assumed the role as primary caretaker, so this history of caring for the children needs to be considered. Other issues considered include anger-management issues, whether there are mental-health problems on one side or the other, whether there are substance-abuse problems or a criminal history, or whether one of the parents has engaged in some activity causing the divorce or breakup of the relationship. There’s a very broad spectrum of topics and issues that a court can consider as it determines what it believes would be in the best interests of the children.