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What Does "In The Child's Best Interests" Mean?

Your children are young. They are going through a very difficult time that could affect them for the rest of their lives. Divorce, child custody, family arrangement and planning decisions, and termination of parental rights are hard on families going through changes.

They are especially difficult for children. Nearly all courts base their decisions on what is in the best interest of the child. When there are parenting decisions to be made and parents cannot agree, family court judges will use this standard to make decisions.

There Are Factors That Help Determine The "Best Interest"

What exactly does it mean to make decisions based on the "best interests" of a child. There are factors that will be considered, including:

  • Evidence of parenting ability. Can the parent requesting custody meet the psychological, emotional and physical needs of the child?
  • Consistency. Will the child's routine, living arrangement, school and child care stay the same?
  • Parental conduct, attributes and fitness.
  • Opinions of the children and expert witnesses.
  • Age, health and sex of the children.
  • Primary caregiver. Who has been the main caregiver?
  • Education.
  • Medical condition.
  • Psychological condition.
  • Emotional state.
  • Safety.
  • Spiritual development.
  • Home environment.

It Is Important To Be Active In Your Child's Life

Have you gone to your child's school for conferences? What about educational activities or parenting decisions? Have you taken time off work to stay with them while they were sick?

Did you coach their teams, go to their games or work with them on their skills? You might be asked to prove that you have fostered a loving relationship. A judge might ask you for evidence that you are an active participant in their upbringing and care.

There Are Things That Might Be Happening That Are Not In Your Child's Best Interest

Judges tend to frown on parenting arrangements that do not allow for access or if visitation is difficult. Both parents should be allowed to maintain personal, loving, caring and close relationships. The court does not always approve of relocation, especially if it limits (or denies) a noncustodial parent's access to their child.

Remember, The Court Is Trying To Make Your Child's Life Less Stressful

It is important that, whenever possible, both parents are involved and active in their children's lives. That is the essence of how "the best interest of the child" is determined.

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