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 strongly advocate maintaining a child’s accustomed arrangement, such as attending the same school or residing in the same neighborhood. Consequently, they often disapprove of arrangements hindering one parent’s access or creating visitation difficulties.
Even when one parent is granted sole physical custody, the other parent usually retains visitation rights. Many states’ child custody laws prioritize arrangements that foster a dedicated and affectionate relationship between both parents and the child.
When Is Relocating Deemed Best?
Determining whether to relocate depends on your child’s best interests. If the move seems aimed at restricting the other parent’s access, the court might reject it. However, if the relocation promises improved education, childcare, or support systems, supported by evidence, it may be justified.
Remember, the court assesses your child comprehensively, evaluating not just your parenting suitability but also striving to uphold stability in the child’s life. The objective is to provide both parents with the chance to actively participate in the child’s upbringing.
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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