The Best Interest of the Child: Considerations for Children

Custody hearings that involve children must consider their best interests when determining future arrangements. These impact the child’s housing, medical, and educational needs, and relationships with immediate and extended family members.

Parents often overlook these factors as they deal with the challenging process of divorce. If parents are unable to agree on a custody agreement, it’s up to the courts to decide on an arrangement that serves the best interest of the child.

Custody and Best Interest

Children receive the greatest level of support and care when they have strong relationships with both of their parents. Divorce requires parents to make difficult decisions and can disrupt many aspects of their lives.

Shared custody allows both parents to look after their child and allow both of them to provide the support the child needs for their long-term wellbeing. In some cases, shared custody is not realistic due to the distance between parents’ residences, the parents’ employment schedules, or other issues.

The needs of a child can change over time, which may result in changes to the court’s custody order. One scenario where this occurs is after a significant change, including changes to the child’s medical needs, schooling, or a risk to his/her physical wellbeing.

Considerations for Children that Influence Their Best Interest

The factors that influence a court’s consideration of what is in the best interests of the child would include the type of home that is provided by the custodial parent. It’s important that parents provide a household that is safe and stable so that the child can thrive.

The relationships between children and their parents also influence the custody order set forth by the court. This includes the emotional bonds that children develop with each of his/her parents.  Relationships are evaluated based on the current living environment and the level of contact that a child has with each of his/her parents, especially when the child may have special needs.

Relationships with other family members such as grandparents, siblings, step siblings, and half siblings are other important factors in child custody hearings. Extended family provides a level of support that can benefit the needs of a child.

In addition, the child’s educational and social needs are important factors that impact his/her long-term development and future personal and professional relationships.

Custody Orders

The custody order set by the courts outlines the visitation rights and schedule for parents. It dictates how often a child will be with each parent and should be specifically designed around the various circumstances related to each family.

There are different types of arrangements that can be made to meet the best interest of the child. Shared custody or visitation for noncustodial parents can be established depending on each case.

Parents who live in separate states can arrange visitation around the child’s school schedule and during the summer months.

In the event that parents are unable to mutually agree upon arrangements for their child, a court will ultimately determine the arrangements that best serve the needs of the child. Understanding the considerations for children related to custody cases ensures that custody arrangements are made to benefit the entire family.