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In The Best Interests Of The Child

Navigating the complex world of family law can be daunting, especially when understanding the critical concept of the “best interests of the child.” This standard plays a pivotal role in court decisions, ensuring that a child’s well-being is at the forefront of any legal determinations involving custody, visitation, and other family-related matters. The stakes are high, and parents must be well-informed about this standard and how it may impact their family.

The purpose of this article is to provide guidance and support to parents as they seek to understand and navigate the “best interests of the child” standard. By shedding light on the various factors that courts consider and offering practical tips for demonstrating a solid commitment to your child’s best interests, this article aims to empower parents to advocate for the well-being of their children throughout the legal process.

What Is The “Best Interest Of The Child” Standard

The “best interests of the child” standard is a legal principle used by courts to determine the most suitable outcome for a child in cases involving custody, visitation, and other family law matters. It emphasizes that the primary concern in any legal decision involving a child should be their well-being and overall happiness.

Custody arrangements in Colorado

Factors Considered By Courts

When determining the child’s best interests, courts can consider just about anything that may be relevant.  These factors may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but some common aspects considered include the following:

1. The child’s physical, emotional, and mental health

2. The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s needs, such as a safe home, adequate food, clothing, and medical care

3. The child’s relationship and attachment to each parent, sibling, and other family members

4. The capacity of each parent to provide a stable, nurturing environment for the child

5. The child’s age and developmental needs

6. The child’s wishes and preferences, taking into account their age and maturity

7. Any history of domestic violence, substance abuse, or criminal activity by either parent

8. The ability of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and facilitate visitation

9. The willingness and ability of each parent to cooperate and communicate effectively regarding the child’s needs and upbringing

It is important to note that no single factor is decisive in determining the best interests of the child. Courts will evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis, considering the unique circumstances and overall balance of these factors to arrive at a decision that promotes the child’s well-being.

Parent’s Physical And Mental Health

Parental physical and mental health is an essential factor in determining the best interests of the child. A parent’s ability to care for and nurture their child is significantly influenced by their own well-being. Courts recognize this and will consider each parent’s physical and mental health status when making custody and visitation decisions. If a parent has a history of mental illness or struggles with drug or alcohol addiction which could negatively impact their ability to care for the child, the court may take this into account when determining the most suitable living arrangement.

Tips For Demonstrating Good Physical & Mental Health

To show that your physical and mental health is conducive to providing the best care for your child, consider the following tips:

1. Seek professional help: If you are dealing with a physical or mental health issue, consult a healthcare professional and follow their recommended treatment plan. This demonstrates to the court that you are actively addressing and managing your health concerns. It can even be advantageous to engage in family therapy if relationships with your children are significantly strained and they need to be repaired.

2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, and sleep well. These habits not only benefit your health but also serve as a positive example for your child. One area that the court takes very seriously is substance use in the presence of the child. While alcohol and marijuana are legal to consume if you are of age, you should consider strongly whether you need these substances while taking care of your child.

3. Keep records: Maintain documentation of your medical appointments, treatments, and any progress you have made with your health. This can be helpful evidence when demonstrating your commitment to your well-being.

4. Establish a support system: Surround yourself with friends, family, or support groups who can offer emotional and practical assistance when needed. A strong support network can contribute to better mental health and stability.

5. Be open and honest: Communicate openly with the court about your physical and mental health. Demonstrating transparency and a willingness to address any concerns can help establish your credibility and commitment to your child’s best interests. Remember that nobody is perfect. It is rare for the court to “take away” someone’s child, or give the other parent full custody. It is important to show that you are putting in the effort and want to better yourself for your child.

best interest of the child standard

Child’s Physical & Mental Health 

The physical and mental health of the child is of utmost importance in determining their best interest. A child’s well-being directly impacts their overall development, happiness, and ability to thrive. Ensuring that a child’s physical and mental health needs are met is a top priority for courts when making decisions related to custody, visitation, and other family matters. By promoting and safeguarding the child’s well-being, parents and the court can work together to create a stable foundation for the child’s future.

How To Support Your Child’s Health During The Legal Process

The legal process can be stressful for both parents and children. To support your child’s physical and mental health during this challenging time, consider the following tips:

1. Maintain routines: Consistency is essential for children, especially during times of change. Strive to maintain regular routines, such as bedtime rituals, mealtimes, and after-school activities.

2. Open communication: Encourage your child to express their feelings and concerns both with you and the other party. They should not be drawn into the conflicts of the parents or asked to choose sides, but their feelings should not be discarded.   Offer reassurance and let them know their feelings are valid and you are there to support them.

3. Seek professional help if needed: If your child is struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, consult a mental health professional who specializes in working with children.

4. Prioritize self-care: Encourage your child to engage in activities they enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, or spending time with friends. These activities can serve as a valuable outlet for stress and help maintain their mental well-being.

5. Monitor your child’s health: Keep track of your child’s physical health by scheduling regular check-ups with their pediatrician and addressing any medical concerns promptly.

6. Provide a stable environment: Ensure your child has a safe, nurturing, supportive home environment where they feel comfortable and secure.

7. Be a positive role model: Demonstrate healthy coping strategies and self-care practices for dealing with stress and difficult emotions. By setting a positive example, you can help your child develop the resilience needed to navigate the challenges of the legal process.

The Importance Of A Stable Living Environment

A stable and safe environment is crucial for a child’s well-being and development. Courts recognize that children thrive with a consistent, secure, nurturing home life. A stable living environment helps promote a sense of safety, reduces stress and anxiety, and supports healthy development in various aspects of a child’s life, including emotional, social, and academic growth. As a result, the quality of the living environment is a key factor in determining the best interests of the child.

How To Create & Maintain A Safe Home

Creating and maintaining a safe home is vital for demonstrating your commitment to your child’s best interests. Here are some tips to help you establish a secure living environment:

1. Ensure basic needs are met: Provide a clean, comfortable space for your child to sleep, eat, and play. Ensure that the home is adequately heated, cooled, and well-maintained. If basic needs are not met, it is possible that the Department of Human Services will become involved in your lives.

2. Prioritize safety measures: Install safety devices such as smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and childproof locks. Regularly check and maintain these devices to ensure they are functioning properly.

3. Minimize hazards: Remove any potential hazards from your home, such as exposed electrical wires, sharp objects, or unstable furniture. Keep cleaning supplies and medications out of reach of children.

4. Establish rules and routines: Create a structured home environment with clear rules and routines to provide a sense of predictability and security for your child.

5. Foster a nurturing atmosphere: Encourage open communication and emotional support within the home. Show love, affection, and understanding to your child, and promote healthy relationships among all family members.

6. Monitor visitors: Be cautious about who you invite into your home and ensure that visitors are appropriate role models for your child.

7. Address any concerns: If you face challenges in creating a stable living environment, seek assistance from community resources, social workers, or legal professionals to help you address these concerns.

By prioritizing a safe and stable living environment, you demonstrate your commitment to your child’s best interest and overall well-being to the court.

Tips For Working With Legal Professionals

Successfully navigating the legal process requires effective collaboration with legal professionals who can guide and support you. Here are some tips for working with attorneys, mediators, and other legal experts:

1. Choose the right professional: Select a legal professional with experience in family law and a strong understanding of the “best interests of the child” standard. Look for someone compassionate, communicative, and dedicated to achieving the best outcome for your child.

2. Be prepared and organized: Gather all relevant documentation, such as medical records, school reports, and financial information. Being well-prepared and organized will help your legal professional advocate more effectively for your child’s best interest.

3. Communicate openly: Establish clear, open lines of communication with your legal professional. Keep them informed of any changes or developments in your situation, and ask questions whenever you need clarification.

4. Be honest and forthcoming: Provide accurate and truthful information to your legal professional. Transparency is crucial in building trust and ensuring they can effectively represent your child’s best interests. If there are potential concerns that need to be addressed, transparency is the best way to ensure that they can be addressed in the best way possible.

5. Follow legal advice: Listen to the guidance provided by your legal professional and follow their recommendations. They have the expertise and experience necessary to navigate the complexities of the legal process.

How To Advocate For Your Child’s Best Interest

As a parent, you are your child’s most influential advocate. Here are some strategies to help you champion your child’s best interest throughout the legal process:

1. Educate yourself: Gain a solid understanding of the “best interests of the child” standard and the factors courts consider in their decision-making process. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and advocate more effectively.

2. Stay focused on your child’s needs: Prioritize your child’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being above all else. Avoid getting caught up in personal conflicts with the other parent, and keep your child’s best interests at the forefront of your actions and decisions.

3. Be proactive: Address any concerns or issues that may impact your child’s best interests. Demonstrate your commitment to their well-being by seeking help and making necessary changes when needed.

4. Document your efforts: Keep a detailed record of your efforts to meet your child’s needs and promote their best interests. This documentation can be valuable evidence when presenting your case to the court.

5. Cooperate and compromise: Work with the other parent, legal professionals, and the court to find solutions that best serve your child’s needs. Demonstrating a willingness to cooperate and compromise can help create a more positive outcome for your child. Parents who are willing and able to cooperate and compromise will find themselves in court less often in the future; which is not only less stressful on you, but also on your child. Compromise means that neither party is getting everything that they want, but both are getting some things that they want. Compromise is never easy but it results in the best outcomes.

By actively advocating for your child’s best interests and working effectively with legal professionals, you can help ensure that your child’s needs are met and that their well-being is protected throughout the legal process.


Throughout this article, we have explored various factors that courts consider when determining the best interest of the child. These factors include the physical and mental health of both the parents and the child, the provision of a safe and stable living environment, the child’s attachment to caretakers, and each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s needs, such as medical care, sufficient food, and a nurturing atmosphere. Additionally, the presence of domestic violence and the child’s own wishes and preferences, when appropriate, also play a significant role in the decision-making process.

Understanding and navigating the “best interests of the child” standard is crucial for parents involved in family law matters. By familiarizing yourself with the factors that courts consider and taking proactive steps to address any concerns, you can effectively advocate for your child’s well-being and ensure that their needs are met throughout the legal process. By working collaboratively with legal professionals and prioritizing your child’s best interests above all else, you can contribute to a more positive outcome for your child and help lay the foundation for a stable, nurturing, and successful future.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. We understand the financial burden a divorce can have on an individual. As such we have created our industry-first SimpleStart™ program, providing people a chance to reduce the amount of money needed upfront to start their case. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a free consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.

By: Andrew Kemmer, Esq.

Posted May 02, 2023

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