What Is The Best Interest Of The Child Standard?

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Family Law Lawyer

When it comes to deciding child custody cases, family law judges used the best interest of the child standard. This doctrine’s meaning is that the child will be well protected and taken care of in every possible way. Although this could be a subjective standard, it is the best one to ensure each child custody case is assessed correctly.

What Factors Do Family Court Judges Use in Custody?

Although there are many child custody cases where parents agree on how custody and parenting time should be divided between the two of them, as a family law lawyer can attest, there are far more parents who cannot agree. In these cases, the judge must make the determination based on the evidence both sides present to the court.

It is not uncommon in these types of cases for parents to make allegations against the other that the parent is unfit. This is where the judge must weigh the presented evidence using several factors that only focus on the best interest of the child and nothing else. These factors include:

  • Which child custody arrangement best ensures the child’s physical safety and basic needs (food, shelter, etc.) will be met? Evidence that could impact this factor is any past history of physical threats or violence made by either parent or any other party associated with one of the parents, such as a new romantic interest or partner.
  • Which parent the child will flourish with, including emotional needs, mental health, cultural identity, religion, etc?
  • The parents’ ability or inability to co-parent in a cooperative manner
  • Practical considerations, such as each parent’s work schedule, the distance between their homes, the distance to the child’s school, etc.
  • The wishes of the child, based on the child’s age.
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant.

When Is This Standard Applied?

The best child interest of the child standard begins with the presumption (rebuttable) that all parents will cooperate for the good of the child. The judge will take the evidence and apply each piece of evidence against the best interest standard to determine if a parent’s actions and/or behavior goes against the best interest standards.

It is important to note, however, that any past criminal history, substance abuse, or other negative behaviors or choices a parent may have engaged in does not automatically disqualify them from be awarding some level of custody and parenting time. It is much preferred for both parents to have some level of involvement in the child’s life because of the belief that this has a more positive impact on the child than having a parent not involved.

For example, if a parent struggling with an addiction but has a significant amount of time in recovery and can show that they could provide a positive and healthy environment for the child, the court would look upon this favorably and most likely not hold the parent’s past substance abuse against them. If, however, the other parent provided legitimate evidence that the parent was still using, then the court could place significant restrictions, such as supervised visitation, to ensure the best interest of the child is being met.

Another issue that may be addressed is if the child has been injured in an accident while in the parent’s care. However, if there is a personal injury claim pending against the actual at-fault party, your lawyer can use that as evidence to show that the accident and injuries to your child were not caused by negligence on your part.

If you are involved in a child custody battle, make sure you have an aggressive family law lawyer advocating for you to make sure your parental rights are protected.

Thank you to our friends at Robinson & Hadeed for the information about child custody cases.