Just about every court base child custody ruling on the best interests of the child standard. Meaning that judges are going to establish the custody arrangement that appropriately fits the child’s needs, based on a number of considerations. These factors the judge will examine is going to vary subject to the state where the case is filed, because every state address child custody cases somewhat differently.
Determination of the Child’s Best Interest
Typically, the factors a judge are going to consider when determining the child’s best interest include:
- How old the child is: Younger children generally need more interactive care. Courts examine the bond between child and parent when assessing child custody possibilities. Additionally, when children are younger, judges oftentimes defer to the parent that has been the principal caregiver in the child’s life. Many courts will also consider the child’s desires, subject to their age.
- Consistence: Courts usually prefer to keep children’s routines consistent. This comprises of living arrangements, schooling or childcare routines, and accessibility to extended family. Family court judges favor to not interfere in a child’s routine when they can.
- Proof of parenting capability: Courts look for proof that the parent petitioning custody is truly able to fulfill the child’s physical and emotional requirements, including nourishment, housing, clothing, health care, schooling, emotional support, and parental leadership. Courts also examine the parents’ physical and mental competence.
- Effect of changing the present routine: When thinking about a change, the courts also try to establish how that change would impact the child. Usually, judges attempt to limit changes that could have a negative impact.
- Safety: This factor is continually a concern in family court, and judges will promptly deny custody in cases in which they suspect the child’s safety would be jeopardized.
What to Prove to the Court
You can prove to the judge that you have your child’s best interests whole heartedly by providing evidence that you have been actively engaged in their life and have provided parental and loving care.
You can substantiate this by proving that you have enrolled your child in school, are engaged in their education and up-bringing, have been involved in extracurricular activities, and have made other parental decisions demonstrating an interest in raising your child.
In situations where each of the parents are involved, the judge may also consider if one parent is more inclined to encourage a loving relationship with the other parent, so working to restore trust with your ex can also help in proving your intentions.
Factors Opposing the Best Interests of a Child
Judges firmly support keeping a child in an arrangement that the child is accustomed to, like allowing the child to go to the same school or stay in the same neighborhood. For this reason, judges commonly do not support an arrangement where one parent is not allowed access to the child or in which visitation is going to be challenging.
Even in situations where one parent is awarded sole physical custody, the other parent typically has visitation rights. This is due to child custody laws in a lot of states prefer custody arrangements that enables both parents to maintain a devoted and loving relationship with their child.
When Is Relocating Deemed Best?
Relocating might or might not be in the best interest of your child’s. For instance, the judge is going to typically deny a petition to move when they believe the parent making the request is attempting to deny or put a limitation on the other parent’s access.
Nevertheless, relocating might be in the best interest when the move enables the child to go to a better school, provides accessibility to childcare or support systems, or would be beneficial to the child in some other way that can be proven in court.
Lastly, don’t forget that the court is examining your child comprehensively. They don’t just think about if you’re a fit parent. When determining custody, they also strive to keep all other aspects of the child’s life continual while guaranteeing that each of the parents have the chance to be an involved part of the child’s life.
Wolf, J. (n.d.). What the child’s best interest standard means in custody cases. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/best-interests-of-the-child-standard-overview-2997765.
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