The child’s best interest is paramount in child custody cases. The court’s objective will be to foster and encourage the child’s happiness, welfare, mental health, security and emotional development. The court will want to ensure that the custody arrangement or order is the best possible arrangement or order for the overall development of the child. It is in the child’s best interest to maintain a close and loving relationship with his or her parents. But it is practically impossible when the parents are divorced. This is the main challenge faced by the courts in deciding child custody.
If you are in a child custody battle, you must take decisions keeping your child’s best interest in mind. Remember your decisions can affect your child’s future and your relationship with your child.
Factors Considered When Deciding the Child’s “Best Interest”
There is no fixed best interest standard. It will vary from case to case. The courts generally use the following factors to determine the child’s best interest:
• Health (mental and physical) condition of the parents
• Child’s preference (in case of older children)
• Need for continuity
• Cultural and religious norms
• Educational requirements of the child
• Child’s sex and age
• Child’s Relationship with other members of the household
• Child’s relationship with the extended family of both parents
• Parental suitability of each parent
• History of abuse