As a parent going through a divorce, you may hear the term "best interest of the child". As the parent, this edict to keep children healthy in every way during and after divorce may come into play in certain custody, child support, and visitation situations. Read on and find what is meant by the best interests of the child.
When Parents Can and Cannot Agree
It's not necessarily the court's way or no way when it comes to issues relating to a child. Parents often know what is best for their children without the court's help. If the parents can agree on custody and other matters outside of court, then the judge almost always will approve of the provisions. It's only when the parents cannot agree and leave it up to the judge that decisions get made based on the following factors. In some cases, a child custody evaluation is carried out by an expert who interviews the parents and the child and provides the judge with an opinion.
Factors That Determine the Best Interest of the Child
- Parental Fitness – Parents should be free of any proven allegations of child abuse, criminal activity, drug abuse, child neglect, etc.
- Financial Responsibility – Parents don't have to be rich to be the custodian of a child but they do have to show that they have honored any child support obligations up to now.
- Health – Both the physical and mental health of a parent may come under the microscope.
- Environment – In a contest between two parents, the one that can show the child has access to good schools, a decent and safe home, other relatives nearby, neighborhood friends, and community support will often win the custody battle.
- Lifestyle – The choices parents make when it comes to religion, exercise, diet, cohabitation, and work schedules may also come into play in contested custody trials.
- Attitude – This is a major area of interest to child custody evaluation experts. The parent who is favored is often the one that is more willing to allow the child to spend a great deal of time with the other parent. This aspect of custody should not be overlooked as the best interest of the child is largely based on the child benefiting from time with both parents.
- Wishes of the Child – If the child is of sufficient age (often that is around 12 years old) to be asked, their opinion could matter.
These are common factors but each state has its own edicts. Talk to your divorce lawyer about what the best interest of the child means for your case. For more information about family law, contact a local law practice.