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What does “in the best interest of the child” really mean?

On Behalf of | Jul 29, 2021 | Divorce |

If someone polled parents and asked what they dread the most, the majority may tell you that the prospect of sharing custody with their ex is high up on the list. Moving from seeing your child whenever you like to parenting on a schedule wouldn’t likely appeal to anyone. This is a reality that many parents face when they split.

Many parents research factors that family law judges weigh when determining how to award custody, including what’s best for children’s health and safety, and what least interrupts their development. This is known as what is “in the best interest of the children.”

What does this really mean?

Children are often described as being impressionable. Situations that happen when they’re younger can affect their development, causing them mental and physical health concerns that last into adulthood.

Child psychologists have long observed children to determine what helps them succeed as they grow into adulthood. There’s a common consensus among these scientists that situations in which both parents raise children are what’s best for their development.

There are exceptions to this rule. The following are some circumstances in which a judge may carefully weigh a decision to ensure they’re doing right by your child.

Your child’s best interest and custody awards

The court may take into account the following factors as they weigh what’s in your child’s best interests when awarding custody:

  • Your mental and physical health
  • Neighborhood and home safety and comfort
  • Any substance abuse concerns
  • Past domestic violence or abuse allegations

Your child’s age, gender-identity and temperament may impact the decision the judge makes as well.

Relocation plans and your child’s best interests

Parents often want to relocate to a new area following a split. They follow court rules when doing so, including notifying the co-parent of plans. The judge may want to receive assurance from you that your child will continue to enjoy contact with your co-parent before signing off on your plan.

The concept of “in the best interest of your child” may seem ambiguous. You do have a right to present evidence in court to persuade a judge. This may be appropriate depending on the circumstances.