The best interests of the child standard is used to guide child custody decisions and determine what child custody arrangement is best for the child. The bests interests of the child standard requires the family law court to balance the ability of both parents to meet the needs of the child and do what is best for the child.
Determining what is in the best interests of the child
There are many factors that the court will use to determine what is best for the child. For example, for the purposes of stability, priority may be given to the parent who first takes custody of the child either by agreement between the parents or because custody was initially awarded to that parent.
Additionally, priority may be given to which parent can provide significantly better childcare arrangements. The court will likely give priority to the parent who was the primary caretaker of the child prior to any divorce or separation.
There will also be a look at the parents. For example, the family law court takes into account the mental health of the parents and a parent with a mental illness may be less likely to receive custody. It will also consider the physical health of the parents and a parent with a severe disability or physical illness may be less likely to receive custody. One important point is that evidence that one of the parents has a drug or alcohol abuse problem may make them less likely to obtain custody.
Other factors like a history of abuse, the child’s preference, each parent’s financial situation and more will be considered. In sum, the court will consider almost anything that can affect the child in order to make what it believes is the best child custody decision.