Child custody

Child custody and the best interests of the child

Are you going through the divorce process? Have you come to realize that this will impact your family, including your children, in many ways? If you have yet to think about matters of child custody dispute, now is the time to do so. After all, you want to do what’s best for your child at all times. In short, the court takes one thing into consideration when making a child custody determination — the best interests of the child. This may sound basic, but it shows that the court cares about the child’s well-being more than anything else.

Here are some of the things that the court looks at when attempting to determine best interests of the child standard:

  • The overall health of both parents.
  • The need for a stable and safe home.
  • Any special needs.
  • The input of the child, if he or she is old enough to speak out.
  • Any evidence of alcohol or drug abuse.
  • Any evidence of physical abuse.
  • Relationships with other household members.

As you can see, the family court has to look at many factors when making a best interest determination. This isn’t always easy, but it’s a must.

Best Interests of the Child

best interests of the child

Divorce proceedings are pretty relieving for a spouse seeking to withdraw from an abusive marriage or one where they no longer feel entitled to stay. The process can significantly relieve the affected partner but entail a tough battle on adoption and child custody maintenance matters. The United States laws have adopted several statutes to help tackle child-related issues. Such statutes include the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What are best interests of the child?

When child matters are disputed, the courts must ensure the child’s rights are given top consideration and specially treated. A decision must be based on what is in the best interest of the child and not anybody else. According to the UN convention on the rights of a child, precisely the third article, a court in deciding on child custody, visitation, security, and maintenance must make a child’s best interests prime. The principle is applied in all circumstances. Even for children who are refugees or ones who just migrated from their places of residence, their rights are held prime.

When is a parents found not in the best interests of the child?

Four factors are applied by a court when deciding which parent receives custody. The number one factor is that the child’s wishes matters. From the provision, the child must be of legal age, in this case, 18 years old. The child must also have a preference that is considered intelligible. For example, a child cannot say that they choose to live with one parent over the other because they receive gifts. The courts put weight on whether the child’s choice is in their best interest. 

Consideration of whether a child will continue growing up in a conducive home environment must be made. In this case, a consideration of who is best likely to uphold visitation rights may render a parent incapable of being awarded custody. The court must look to ensure that a parent not living with the child is given visitation rights. The rights to bond with both parents for the child are a must-have.

A mental or physical assessment of the well-being of the parent is also a top priority. For example, a mentally unwell parent may not be considered able to uphold best interests of a child’s life. A parent must, in all dimensions, be able to take care of the child and offer all the necessary support required for the best upbringing of the child.

Lastly, a family court must consider whether a child has any unique condition that needs attention. For this provision to suffice, there has to be a close look at how each parent handles the child’s unique health and safety code. If, for example, a child needs special medical attention and one parent neglects the child’s condition, then the parent may be deemed unfit for sole or joint custodial rights.

best interests of child

What are the advantages of a “best interests of child” approach?

There are two main advantages of the approach. One is the child receives absolute protection from continual abuse. Protecting the child applies irrespective of relationship conflicts between parents such that parents with misunderstandings should not deny their children their rights. That is why the courts consider such factors as visitation rights, mental health, financial status, and special needs, among other factors. These considerations ensure that the child is emotionally, physically, and psychologically protected from suffering.

Secondly, the approach ensures that the child is taken care of and has interaction with both parents. Prioritizing a child’s rights ensures that each parent is held responsible and the child has full enjoyment of their rights.

What are the best interests of the child for moving?

If a parent considers moving with a child, the process entails choosing to relocate for the child’s benefit. For example, a parent moving the child to a better school or seeking better financial opportunities would be considered vital. A parent seeking to move to deny the child visitation rights would be considered an ill motive.

Conclusion

If matters of child custody cases are on your mind, you should get into the same frame of mind as the court. You should also want to do what is best for your child, even if it doesn’t always mean that is what is best for you. If you feel your child’s best interests are not being served, don’t hesitate to consult with a family law attorney who can help you understand your legal rights.

Source: FindLaw, “Who Gets Custody,” accessed Oct. 19, 2016

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