Child Custody: Best Interests of a Child Standard
Child custody oftentimes proves to be one of the most challenging, contentious aspects of a divorce case. If you are heading towards divorce court and have children, you need to be braced for the challenges that may be in front of you. In this regard, you need to have a basic understanding of the child custody process in a divorce case. This includes understanding the standard used by a court in making child custody decisions. In all jurisdictions in the United States, courts utilize what is known as the best interests of a child standard.
When considering the best interests of a child standard in a custody case, two important factors must be closely considered:
- Basic definition of the best interests of a child
- Factors considered by a court in making a child custody determination
Basic Definition of the Best Interests of a Child Standard
The best interests of a child standard mandates that a court make child custody and parenting time decisions with a focus on the health and welfare of a minor above all other considerations. The best interests of a child standard mandates that the court consider the unique facts and circumstances of a particular case when making decisions regarding the custody of a child in a divorce, paternity, and even an adoption case.
The best interests of a child standard do not take a one-size-fits-all or cookie cutter approach to make custody decisions. Every custody case requires a fresh consideration of applicable facts and circumstances unique to the case.
Factors Considered by a Court in Making a Child Custody Determination
As was noted, each child custody matter necessitates a particular examination of the facts and circumstances of the case. Having said that, there are some more commonplace considerations made by a court in a child custody matter. These include:
- Consideration of which parent historically has been the primary caretaker of a child
- Consideration of the physical, emotional, and mental health of the parties
- Examination of which parent is more apt to encourage the development of a close relationship between a child and the other parent
- Examination of the living situation of each parent
On a final note, when divorcing parents keep their focus on what is in the best interests of a child in a custody case, tensions can ease somewhat. With lower emotions and better communication between divorcing parents, the best interests of a child tend to be better served.
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