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Child Custody: Considering The Best Interests Of The Child In Custody Cases

The “best interests” of the child is the overriding focus of any child custody case, regardless of whether a family court judge makes the custody decision or the attorney and the parents of the child resolve the matter through agreement and negotiation out of the court premises. The term “best interests” of the child has a particular meaning when it comes to deciding for kids in family law.

In this article, we share all about the standard of a child’s “best interests” and all the factors that are considered by the court when this standard is applied.

The Best Interests Of The Child In Custody Cases

When it comes to child custody cases, the best interests of a child means that all the decisions and discussions regarding visitation and custody are made keeping the ultimate goal of encouraging and fostering the child’s security, happiness, emotional development, and mental health into adulthood. Typically, it is in the best interests of the child to maintain a loving and close relationship with both parents. That said, it is not always practical to maintain such a relationship in a child custody dispute.

When it comes to a custody conflict, the more important thing to keep in mind is that all the decisions must be made in the best interests of the child. The choices made by you or the court will impact the development of your child for years to come in a number of ways.

Factors That Determine The Best Interests Of The Child In A Custody Case

Although this standard of a child’s best interests can sometimes be challenging to define, some common factors that determine this standard in a custody case are as follows:

  • The child’s wishes if he/she is old enough to express a preference

  • If a child has any special needs and the way in which each parent will attend to those needs

  • The physical and mental health of both parents

  • The sex and age of the child

  • Cultural and/or religious considerations

  • Adjustments to the community and school

  • The need to have a stable home environment

  • Evidence of sex/child abuse or parental drug/alcohol issues

  • Evidence of domestic violence

  • Parental use of emotional or excessive disciplinary abuse

  • Opportunity for interaction with the extended family and support of these people (such as grandparents)

  • Interrelationships and interactions with other household members

  • Any other child/children that affect the current custody arrangement

It is important to remember here that courts look at multiple factors in child custody cases and follow a holistic approach to decide the best interests of a child. They determine what’s best for a child by considering the circumstances of the child, the parents, or the caregiver and their capacity to ensure the happiness and safety of the child.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Who Gets The Custody Of A Child

In an ideal world, separating or divorcing parents would set aside all their personal differences to together decide the best option for the custody of their child. However, things don’t always pan out so smoothly. This leaves things up to the court to decide what’s best for the child. Courts make this custody decision after considering a full array of factors, including the relationship of the child with the parents, their income, and household stability.