PLM Family Law

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How does “best interests” influence custody?

While you may want only the best for your children, strong feelings against your former spouse could impact your decisions. The courts in North Dakota can help you assess the best interests of your children from an objective point of view.

Knowing how the courts define best interests and use their findings to determine custody arrangements may help you prepare your next steps.

Factors of best interests

The welfare of your children hinges on the abilities of you and your ex to provide basic needs including food, clothing, shelter and love. According to, some factors addressed when assessing the best interests of your children may include the following:

  • Developmental needs of your children
  • Environmental risks of each home
  • Existing emotional ties between family members
  • Mental and physical health of both parents
  • Continuity and stability of your children’s current lifestyle
  • Preferences of your older children

Even if you believe that your custody arrangement should look one way, if the courts feel that any component violates the best interests of your children, they may suggest an alternative solution.

Modifications to an order

Changes, growth, relocation and even disruptions in relationships may impact the effectiveness of your custody agreement. If you reach a point where you feel that your custody arrangement no longer serves its purpose, you may desire to petition the courts for a modification.

In determining whether or not to change the original terms of the agreement, the courts will once again assess the best interest of your children. Putting your children first can enable you to provide them with the support they need to navigate the complexities of a changing family dynamic.