What Does “The Best Interests of the Child” Mean?

father and son

As you begin to navigate child custody, you will often hear the term “the best interests of the child.” While it seems vague, the term is used to encompass all needs that your child may require and is left open to interpretation because children all have different needs for them to grow and thrive.

What Are “The Best Interests of the Child?”

The court uses the best interests of the child to explain the circumstances that would be best for their care and development. When determining if an option is in the child’s best interests, the courts often consider:

  • The home environment of each parent
  • If each parent is able to financially support their child
  • If each parent can physically care for the child
  • Each parent’s work schedule and prospective travel
  • Any physical or mental health conditions in which the parent could not fully care for the child
  • Any substance abuse issues of either parent
  • Any occurrences of family violence or restraining orders against one parent
  • Any physical or mental health conditions the child may have
  • Any special needs of the child

This list is not all-encompassing and the courts consider each family’s circumstances when determining the best interests of each child. Ultimately, the court’s goal is for the child to maintain relationships with each parent and to either award joint custody or visitation rights to each parent.

The court would deem something not in the child’s best interests if it would negatively impact the child and inhibit positive growth. Examples of instances in which joint custody would not be in the child’s best interests would be if one parent has previously neglected or abused the child, has substance abuse issues, or would be unable to physically care for the child on their own.

What If My Child Has Unique Needs?

Since the guideline of the child’s best interests is not a cookie-cutter standard, the courts do have leeway to determine what is in the child’s best interests if your child does have unique needs.

Norman Child Custody Attorneys

Seeking child custody is often a stressful time for parents. When navigating your custody case, it is important to know what factors the courts use when deciding child custody and what “the best interests of the child” means.

Are you seeking custody of your child? Schedule a free consultation today with our team by calling (405) 266-5072 or contacting us online.

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