The “best interest of the child” is the term used by the court in terms of family law determination. Child custody is a serious issue for parents who are passing through separation. Judges decide best-suited custody arrangements for children to fulfill children’s needs. This custody arrangement decision depends upon many factors. These factors can be different in different states because child custody cases are dealt with a slight difference in every state.
Factors in the best interest of the child
Generally, the judge takes the following factors when it comes to the best interest of child standards.
Age of the child
Young children need more care than adult children. The courts evaluate the child custody option by taking into consideration the bond between child and parent. Judges usually decide about child custody in the favor of the primary caregiver in the child’s life. Child wishes are also taken into consideration by the court but this depends upon the age of the child.
Consistency in child’s routine
The following factors are taken into consideration to explain consistency in a child’s routine.
- Living arrangements
- School or child care routine
- Access to extend family member
Disruption in a child’s routine is not allowed by the judge.
Courts need to know whether a custody requesting parent has abilities to meet the following elements in a child’s life.
- Abilities to fulfill the physical and emotional needs of the child. For example food, clothing, shelter, education, and parent guidance, etc.
- Parent’s physical and mental health
Changes in the child’s routine
Generally, Judges don’t encourage too many changes in the current routine of the child because these changes can harm the child’s life.
This is an important factor taken into consideration by the judges of the family court. Judges can deny child custody to requesting parents if a child’s safety is compromised.
Child care arrangement
Courts give priority to the parent who owned the best childcare arrangements. For example, if you requested child custody and child care arrangements of other parents are better than yours then you can be denied child custody by the court.
In custody disputes, priority is given to the parent who was the primary caretaker of the child before the separation of divorce. A primary caretaker is defined as the parent who spends more time taking care of the child. Generally, the parent who works outside and spends less time at home is not considered as the primary caretaker.
Drugs and alcohol abuse
It is not possible to get child custody if the requesting parent is involved in drug abuse or misuse of alcohol. Evidence of no drug abuse and no misuse of alcohol is needed by the court while deciding about child custody.
The mental health of the parent
The parent having the following mental problems cannot get child custody.
- Mental illness
- Personality disorders
- Emotional instability
- Poor parenting
These mental illnesses can affect the child.
Physical health of the parent
The court can deny child custody If the child custody requesting parent has serious health issues and disabilities.
If the court finds sufficient evidence of domestic violence of one parent over the other in the presence of child then child custody cannot be awarded to parent involved in violence.
Interference in visiting rights
If there is evidence that one parent interferes with the visiting rights of the other parent then that parent can lose custody.
Child Abuse and negligence
If there are pieces of evidence that one parent is involved in abusing the child or neglecting the child, then he can lose custody rights.
Child’s preference for custody
The family courts take the child’s preference for custody into account. This depends upon the age of the child. If the child is of 18 years of age or close to 18 then the court considers their wish or preference. But before any decision, the court will like to know the reasons for this preference. For example, if the child decides to live with a parent who is unable to make proper childcare arrangements then the court cannot award custody in the best interest of the child.
Finances of parents
If custody requesting parent is not having sufficient finances for the housing, clothing, and food then he/she cannot be awarded custody.
The family court looks at the home environment of custody requesting parents because the court doesn’t want to put the child in household danger like a new violent partner, frequent parties at home. Requesting parents is also not allowed to keep dangerous material or animals at home.
Comparison of the ability of parents for best schooling is done by the court. The parent who can provide the best school to the child or can afford a school that can fulfill the needs of the child is preferred for child custody.
The decision about child’s siblings
If the child has siblings then the court prefers to keep siblings together with one parent.
Parent behavior in the court
Court closely monitors the behavior of both parents and preference can be given to the parent who encourages the child to build good relations with another parent. In addition, the court can consider any other factor in the best interest of the child. In some cases, the court can assign a guardian for the best interest of the child. This guardian investigates the parenting arrangement by visiting homes and interviewing the family members.
Factors against child interest
Some factors are not in the best interest of the child. Following are these factors. Keeping the child in an arrangement that the child is not familiar like the change of school or neighborhood. The arrangement, where one parent denied to access a child or visitation, is not possible. Child custody law in most of the states allows both parents to have a close relationship with the child.
Relocation of child
Relocation of the child may or may not be in the best interest of the child. It is considered in the best interest of the child if the child is moved to a better school or support system. Relocation is considered not in the best interest of the child if visitation of child by one parent becomes impossible. For relocation, you can file in family court. You can also get support in a child custody case by hiring a professional company like getdivorcepapers.com.