What Is “The Best Interest of the Child” Standard, and How Does it Affect My Custody Case?

Child-related matters are serious, as decisions made in and out of court can considerably affect a child’s life and future. For this reason, judges must carefully consider what is best for a child before making any determinations. To do so, judges utilize the best interests of the child standard. 

Factors Affecting Custody Matters Under the Best Interest Standard

Every state has its own best interest of the child standard, detailing different factors family court judges must review and consider before rendering decisions. These factors can significantly aid judges when making child custody determinations and creating parenting plans. Therefore, they have a strong impact on the outcome of a case. 

The following are only some of the details judges investigate in child custody cases. 

The Child’s Age and Gender

A child’s age and gender play large roles in custody considerations. Children’s needs change at every age, and a judge must determine whether each parent can meet these needs.

Along with age and gender, judges will also consider the child’s mental and physical health and whether they have any special needs that require specific attention. 

The Wishes of the Parents

While judges do consider the wishes of each parent, they often don’t place too much weight on them. Just because a party wants custody of their child, it does not mean they’d be a fit enough parent. Judges must instead look at the circumstances to determine whether a parent’s wishes will be in the child’s best interest. 

The Relationship the Child Has with Each Parent

The parent-child relationship is crucial in a child custody matter. Judges will examine the relationship the child has had with each parent to date and whether parents have the interest, intention, and means to maintain these relationships. 

The Adjustment the Child Will Need to Undergo

Custody matters regularly result in changes to a child’s lifestyle. The judge must figure out what kind of changes their decisions will entail in an attempt to maintain as much stability in the child’s life as possible. 

The Mental and Physical Health of Both Parents

Mental and physical health play a part in determining how much a parent can provide for and support their child. Therefore, judges may examine each parent’s health history to help make their custody decision. 

The Communication and Willingness to Cooperate Between Parents

Communication and cooperation are key in child custody arrangements, more specifically when parents share custody. Judges want to see a willingness from both sides to communicate and work together for the benefit of the child. 

History of Crimes or Abuse

Judges will do everything to protect children from potential danger or harm. Consequently, if there is any history of neglect or abuse, or either parent has a criminal history, this weighs heavily on the judge’s decision. 

A Family Law Attorney Can Help Protect You and Your Children

Whether you’re going through a divorce with children or are just dealing with a custody case, a family law attorney can protect your rights and represent your child’s best interests. 

The lawyers at Sparr, Belville & Brown, LLC approach every family law case with care, compassion, and an eagerness to go the extra mile for the best possible result. Contact our firm today at (920) 236-3838 to schedule your consultation.