HOW DOES THE FAMILY COURT INTERPRET CHILDREN’S BEST INTERESTS?
You might know some formerly married couples in California who have found themselves in child custody disputes. In some cases, each parent tries frequently to convince the children that he or she is desirable over the other parent. Some do this by trying to buy their children’s love. The parents may think that all they have to do to be number one in their kids’ eyes is to take them to Disney World once a year and buy them whatever the latest, greatest gadget on the market happens to be.
The court, on the other hand, often has a different view of what is in the best interests of the children. If your goal is to create a workable parenting plan that is the best it can possibly be for all parties involved, it’s important to understand how courts typically interpret what is best for children.
Meeting the child’s needs, including emotional ones
If you are a parent involved in a litigated custody dispute, you must convince the judge that you are able to meet the physical and emotional needs of your child. In addition to basic needs — such as food, clothing and shelter — the court will also consider whether you’re able to provide much-needed parental guidance and loving support regarding all aspects of your child’s life.
Children thrive on consistency and routine
If the court believes that a parent’s lifestyle will create an unstable atmosphere for the kids, that assessment could be detrimental to that parent’s parental rights. The court typically favors custody arrangements that allow children to maintain, as much as possible, a sense of normalcy and consistency.
What was life like for your kids during your marriage?
If you were the primary caregiver of your children during marriage, and they are used to you being the one who provides for their daily needs, the court is likely to agree that it is in their best interests to reside with you after divorce. Especially if your children are still quite young, the court may find that disrupting their routines as little as possible is what is best for them.
Safety is always the highest priority
If substance, emotional or physical abuse was a main factor that prompted your divorce, it is likely in your children’s best interests to bring this to the court’s attention. If the court believes that time with your ex is a detriment to your children’s safety, the court will take steps to protect the children. Talk to your attorney as soon as possible if you believe your children’s safety is being threatened by the current custody arrangement or the arrangement the other parent is proposing.
The big picture
Divorce is never easy, and when children are involved, you may experience times of uncertainty, anxiety and worry about their future. That is only natural. However, getting divorced does not have to result in long-term problems for your kids. By providing encouragement and support as needed, you can help them cope and healthily adapt to life after divorce.