Best interest of the child – A court’s decision
In a divorce, it can often feel like everyone involved thinks they have all the answers – even when it comes to deciding what is in the best interest of the child. Whether it’s the parents themselves, or immediate family members, everyone’s got an opinion on the matter, right?
But at the end of the day, it is up to the court to decide what is in the best interest of the child. No one else.
That’s because the court can take emotions out of the equation to make the most sound and beneficial decision possible. The best interest of any child in a divorce is the court’s paramount consideration when deciding on issues of conservatorship, possession, and access. The court’s focus is not on who has a better claim to the child, but instead on who can better serve the child’s interests.
So when tempers flare, and everyone feels they have all the answers, it is better for everyone involved to back up, take a deep breath, and let the court determine the best course of action.
There’s a long, long, long list of factors the court considers, but to keep things simple for those of you reading this blog, these factors fall roughly into three categories: Caring for the child, Maintaining family relationships, and Parental fitness.
Caring for the child – Best interest of the child – A court’s decision
There are several key points for the court to consider when it comes to caring for a child. They include:
- Physical and emotional needs: Which party will best provide for the child’s physical, psychological, and emotional needs and development – both now and in the future.
- Physical and emotional danger: The court can consider whether either party poses any physical or emotional danger to the child now or in the future.
- Stability of the home: Pretty self explanatory. Is either party’s home a safe environment for the child?
- Plans for the child: The court will take into consideration what each parent’s plans are in terms of living arrangements, education, or after-school care.
- Cooperation between parents: A big one. Can each party give the child first priority and reach shared decisions in the child’s best interest?
- Parenting skills: Are the parents using proper discipline or providing the right family support/structure.
- Primary caregiver: The court can consider which party was the child’s primary caregiver before the suit.
Maintaining family relationships – Best interest of the child – A court’s decision
The court believes that, where applicable, it is important to maintain family relationships. This is done by:
- Child’s preference: Believe it or not, but the court does take into consideration what the child’s wishes are, which can include which parent they prefer to be the primary caregiver.
- Geographic proximity: Where the parties live in relation to each other.
- Siblings: If divided or split conservatorship is requested, the court should consider what effect that separation will have on the siblings.
- Promoting relationships between child and other party: The court can consider the extent to which each party can encourage and accept a positive relationship between the child and the other party or parties.
- False report of child abuse: The court researches if either party ever knowingly made a false report of child abuse. In these cases, the court may restrict further access to the child.
- International child abduction: Protecting the child from being abducted by a parent to a foreign country.
Parental fitness – Best interest of the child – A court’s decision
The court delves deep into each party’s ability to properly act as a parent to the child. Each should address the following factors as they relate to each party’s fitness to act as a parent:
- Present fitness and recent past conduct
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Sexual conduct
A court cannot consider marital status, gender, race or religion for each party’s fitness to act as a parent.
Give our knowledgeable staff here at Nelson Law Group, PC a call if you have any further questions regarding this – or any other – issue. Talking these details out beforehand can help steer your family in a more positive direction. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today. For more information on Brett Nelson visit BrettANelson.com