WHAT FACTORS DETERMINE A CHILD’S BEST INTERESTS?
When it comes to creating a fair, child-centered parenting plan for the custody of your child, it is easy to get distracted by your desires as a parent and lose sight of what is truly best for your child. This is a normal experience that many parents face when trying to arrive at a fair custody arrangement. When you begin to feel your focus slipping, it can be helpful to consider the various factors a court looks at to determine a child’s best interests.
The court attempts to determine a custody arrangement that creates the best opportunity for a child to be safe and happy. Of these two, safety is most important. If one parent’s home presents a significant danger in some way, either because of a parent’s behavior or other factors in the home, a court will usually not favor the child staying there.
The court also wants the child to be happy and stable, as much as possible. A judge may consider factors like the community a child has with one parent over another, involving friends, classmates, siblings or grandparents. The judge may also look at the educational opportunities of the child, or, depending on the age and faculties of the child, consider any preference the child expresses.
Of course, a large factor in any custody agreement is each parent’s ability to care for the child. If one parent demonstrates a more responsible lifestyle and use of resources, then this may also sway a judge’s decision.
Each custody negotiation is different, so it is always wise to approach one with the guidance an experienced attorney who cares deeply for the well-being of children. With proper legal guidance, you can ensure that your rights remain secure as a parent while building the best possible future for your child.
Source: FindLaw, “Focusing on the “Best Interests” of the Child,” accessed May 10, 2017