Best Interests of the Child Control Parenting Determinations
When making decisions regarding parental responsibilities in divorce and "custody" cases, it is the "best interests of the child" that control. The "best interests" standard considers several factors and cannot be condensed to one simple sentence.
While the wishes of the parents are one of the factors that go into defining the best interests of the child, the parents' wishes are not determinative. Other factors that are considered in determining the best interests of the child include:
- The relationship of the child with the family and others who significantly impact the child;
- The child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
- The ability of the parents to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact between the child and the other parent;
- The past pattern of involvement of the parents with the child as it reflects values, time commitment, and mutual support;
- The physical proximity of the parents to each other as it relates to the practical consideration of parenting time;
- The ability of each parent to put the child's need ahead of the parent's needs;
- The ability of the parents to cooperate with each other to make joint decisions regarding the child;
The interplay of these factors to best determine the best interests of the child differs from case to case. It is the overall picture, considering these factors, that is important. Because families and children differ, an experienced family attorney can be very beneficial in guiding and developing the best interest narrative.
Above all, it is important to understand that it is the best interests of the child and not the best interests of the parent that inform the parenting outcome in family cases.
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