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What is considered in the best interests of the child?

What is in the best interests of the child is used to make all child custody decisions, however, parents may wonder what is considered in the best interests of the child and how that is arrived at. If parents are negotiating a child custody agreement, or the family law court is deciding on one when parents are unable to agree, the focus is always to develop a child custody agreement that is in the best interests of the child. It is helpful to understand what that refers to.

When what is in the child's best interests is discussed, it refers to ensuring all child custody-related decisions foster the child's security, mental health, emotional development and overall happiness and well-being. Regardless of who is making the decision, the parents or the family law court, the focus should always be what is in the best interests of the child and can serve as a helpful guiding principle for parents and the family law court alike when resolving child custody concerns.

Several factors are taken into account when determining what is in the best interests of the child which will be different for each child. The court will consider the mental and physical health of the parents; any special needs of the child; other children relevant to the child's custody arrangement; the child's relationship with other members of the household; the opportunity for the child to interact act with extended family members and receive support from them; any adjustment to school and community, religious and cultural concerns; the need to provide continuity and a stable home environment; the age and sex of the child and child's wishes when appropriate; and evidence of abuse in the home, including domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse or physical or emotional abuse.

Determining what is best for the child is important in any child custody situation and can have a significant impact on the child. As a result, it is important to always keep focused on what is in the best interests of the child and how to achieve that when contemplating child custody considerations.

Source: Family.findlaw.com, "Focusing on the "Best Interests" of the Child," Accessed Oct. 26, 2017

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