Divorce is a difficult undertaking for everyone involved. Divorce can specifically, be difficult for the children. As such, the court takes an exceptional interest in the children’s post-divorce living arrangements.
Basically, the court will rule on custody and parenting plan based on what it believes to be the best interest of the child. But what exactly does this mean?
The best interest of the child as defined by the family court
The doctrine of the best interest of the child may not be straightforward. However, it basically means that the child’s post-divorce living arrangements (custody, visitation and parenting plan) must focus on promoting and encouraging the child’s safety, happiness and overall health (physical, mental and emotional).
At the very basic, the custody decision should focus on meeting the child’s essential needs. This should facilitate opportunities for the child’s development into adulthood. Of course, each child’s needs and interests are unique.
How the family court determines the best interest of the child
The family court takes the following into account when determining what is in the best interest of the child:
- The child’s health, safety and security while under the care of either parent
- Whether the child is currently living with the caregiver (like grandparents) and how long they have lived with them
- The child’s relationship with both parents
- The child’s age and development level
- Each parent’s health (physical, mental and psychological)
- History of abuse, abandonment or violence
- Any special needs the child might have
- The child’s proximity to the immediate and extended family members
Child custody can be contentious during the divorce. Find out how you can establish a custody and parenting plan that takes your child’s best interest into account.