The laws governing child custody in India are the Guardians and Wards Act 1890 and the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956.
The word “welfare” used under section 13 of the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956 has to be construed literally and must be taken in its widest sense. The moral and ethical welfare of the child must also weigh with the court as well as its physical well-being. Though the provisions of the special statutes which govern the rights of the parents or guardians may be taken into consideration, there is nothing that can stand in the way of the court exercising its parens patriae jurisdiction.
The welfare principle is aimed at serving twin objectives.
In the first instance, it is to ensure that the child grows and develops in the best environment.
The second justification behind the welfare principle in the public interest that stands served with the optimal growth of the children.
Even an interim order of custody in favour of the parent should not insulate the minor from the parental touch and influence of the other parent which is so very important for the healthy growth of the minor and the development of his personality in the case of Ruchi Majoo v. Sanjeev Major (2011)
The crucial factors which have to be kept in mind by the courts for the welfare of the children and equally for the parents can be 1) maturity and judgment (2) mental stability (3) ability to provide access to schools (4) moral character (5) ability to provide continuing involvement in the community (6) financial sufficiency and last but not least the factors involving a relationship with the child
In a matter relating to the custody of a child, the Court must ensure the paramount consideration, that a child requires in the growing stages of his or her life. That is why custody orders are always considered interlocutory orders.