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What are the child’s “best interests” in a custody case?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2022 | Child Custody |

As a divorcing parent, you may have come across the term “the child’s best interests.” Judges must use this as a basis when deciding how parents will share responsibility for their children.

But what exactly does it mean?

It’s not about what the child wants 

Children’s wishes can have some influence on custody determination, especially as they get older.

For instance, a judge would take note if a child said they wanted to live with their dad rather than their mum. Yet, the law realizes that children don’t have the maturity to make such big decisions. They might even just be saying it because their mum wouldn’t let them go to a party last night, but their father would have.

Kids need both parents 

Spending time with both parents is almost always in a child’s best interests in the long run. So that’s what judges will look to do. How they split the time with the child will depend on things like each parent’s availability, possibilities and financial recourses. They will also look at the child’s relationship with each parent and with other family members and access to broader family support.

Judges will also consider how to minimize disruption to the child’s life. For instance, a judge might look unfavorably on a parent who wishes to uproot the child and take them away from school, clubs and friends unless there are overriding benefits that make such a decision in the child’s best interests.

Working out parental responsibilities is complex when divorcing. Learning more about how the law works will be crucial to achieving the best outcome for your child and your future.