What is the Best Interest of a Child?

Contact Us

    In child custody decisions, there’s more to consider than the parents’ opinions. The court’s goal is to ensure the situation is in the best interest of the child in question. “Best interest of the child” describes agreements that have the least amount of negative impact on a minor. These negative impacts may include changing schools, moving farther away from friends and beloved family members, putting a child’s health and safety in jeopardy, and neglecting a child’s mental or emotional well-being. Because there is no objective definition of “best interest,” the courts must weigh several factors in a child’s home life to assess the best living or visitation situation for each child. Keep in mind though that each state has their own laws and regulations regarding a child’s best interest. 

    Is It in the Best Interest of a Child to Stay with Their Parents or Caregivers? 

    Put simply, sometimes. Every situation is different. The court will determine whether a child is safest and healthiest in their current home with their current caregivers. Unfortunately, there is no hard-and-fast rule dictating that it is in the best interest of the child to remain with their parents or guardians. If there is domestic violence in the home – either against the child or between other family members – it is entirely possible the court will choose to remove minors from that household, according to nine states in the country. Meanwhile, dozens of states, including California, heavily consider the negative impact of separation from their caregivers, siblings, or other household members in their decisions. Frankly, there is no way to know for sure what the courts will deem necessary for the best interest of a child. 

    What About What the Child Wants? 

    Courts are legally mandated to consider a child’s wishes in only twelve states. In those situations, the court considers a child’s maturity and age. For example, a 13-year-old likely has a better understanding of appropriate caregiving than a five-year-old. Therefore, the 13-year-old’s wishes would likely hold more weight in court. Outside the twelve states that must consider a child’s wishes, a court may take a child’s opinions into account when determining the best interest of the child, but this practice is not necessarily widespread. 

    Helping Families Navigate Child Custody Documents 

    Family law proceedings are complicated and stressful. However, filing the correct legal documents the first time can help relieve some anxiety. At ProSe Legal, our team of experienced and compassionate legal document assistants (LDAs) can guide you through the process of completing and filing your family law paperwork from divorce to child custody. Don’t rely on the cheapest documents from an online document provider. ProSe LDAs stay abreast of state and local document requirements so you can rest assured your paperwork is accurate. 

    If you need help filing your family law documents, or call (909) 497-1349 today to schedule your appointment!