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Custody

Best Interest of the Children

When a judge is called upon to decide questions related to children and divorce, such as parenting time and decision-making, they use what’s known as the “best interests of the child” standard.  This means, a judge will consider all questions from the perspective of the best interests of the children and will try to fashion orders which meet their developmental needs 

Notably, the standard is not about awarding a parent “custody” of children as a victory.  Nor is withholding it a punishment. A court’s sole focus on these issues is determining, from the evidence and testimony, which parenting time schedule, and decision-making responsibility arrangements are in the best interest of the children. 

Typical Factors

Some of the factors a court looks at when considering the best interest standard are as follows: 

  •   Developmental needs of the child 
  •   Maintaining the child’s community 
  •   History of parenting time 
  •   Ability of the parents to foster a relationship with the other parent 
  •   Age of the children 
  •   Proximity of parents to the children and their community 
  •   Special needs of the children 

These are only some of the factors a court can look at when reviewing the best interest of the children. Generally speaking, judges like to hear more information about the children, rather than less. However, parties are mistaken if they take this as an invitation to raise “fault” in a divorce. 

What About my Parental Rights? 

In all this talk about the best interests of the kids, there doesn’t seem to be any thought put into it about parental rights.  Father’s rights and mother’s rights are imported too, aren’t they?  Yes and no.  Courts have to balance these two competing interests all the time. But with the shift in the law to the best interests standard, the rights of the kids are preeminent. 

Posted March 28, 2019
by: MFL Team


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