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What is the definition of “best interests of the child?”

Child custody can be a particularly contentious part of going through a divorce. Figuring out how courts determine whether or not you will receive any custody of your children is difficult and can be stressful for parents going through the process.

You may have heard the term “best interests of the child,” many times during the custody process. But what does this really mean and how is it used to determine custody?

Definition

As a general rule, the courts use this phrase in order to determine who will get custody of your children based on who is best suited to care for them and provide a happy and health life.

There is not one standardized definition of this phrase, though it is generally determined by a variety of factors related to the care of children. It considers many circumstances of the parent as well as the child’s safety, health and happiness.

How is it applied?

As mentioned above, there are many factors that courts will consider in order to determine what the “best interests of the child” are. Some of these can include:

  • Ability to provide basic necessities such as food, clothing and medical care
  • Physical and mental health of the parent in question
  • Emotional relationship between child and parent
  • Location, as in proximity to child’s existing school, friends and family
  • Wishes of the child
  • Religion and cultural circumstances and considerations

These are just a few of many different elements courts may think about when deciding how to rule in a child custody case. Best interests are determined by a combination of many of these factors in relation to both child and parent. In these cases, the child’s safety and happiness are the most important.

This is a complicated process and no two cases are the same. That is why they use many different factors to determine how to award custody. You want the best for your child, the courts do their best to work to achieve this.

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