By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights
When determining which parent should be given custody, the primary consideration of the Beis Din is what is most beneficial for the child – which parent will give the child the best possible care and where the child can receive the best upbringing, al Taharas Hakodesh, in the pure, holy, Torah way.
Parents need to understand that educating and looking after their children is first and foremost a sacred mission and responsibility, rather than an automatic privilege.
The primary factor affecting the Beis Din’s decision is which parent is most likely to best fulfill the child’s physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Whereas in traditional Jewish sources it is written that a girl should primarily be with her mother, who is responsible to inculcate her in the appropriate Jewish way of life and its values, and a boy over six years should primarily be with his father, who will guide him in Torah learning and proper Chinuch – the most crucial consideration for the Beis Din in awarding custody is to ensure that the children receive the best possible care.
Beis Din must make a thorough assessment taking into account the stability of the home, the fitness of the parent, the child’s preference, the advice of professionals, and many other factors. However, the general guiding principle is: “Hakol l’fee re’os einei hadayanim” – the ultimate determination is in accordance with what Beis Din deems fit in the particular situation.