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What does “the child’s best interest” mean in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 30, 2023 | Family Law |

If you are trying to resolve custody during a divorce, you may hear the term, “the child’s best interests” mentioned. It’s the defining principle that courts must bear in mind when deciding how parents will share time and responsibilities. It’s what you as a parent should keep at the forefront of your mind too.

Here are the basics:

Children usually benefit from constant contact with both parent

You’ve probably heard people talk about societal problems due to boys growing up without fathers. There’s also plenty of evidence that girls do better when their fathers stay around, too.

You might think the best thing for your child is to spend as much time as possible with you and your soon-to-be ex might think the child needs to spend as much time with them as possible. The court will probably look for a more even split.

The court will look at what each of you can provide to your child

A court won’t assume one parent can offer more just because they have more money. They’ll take a more general overview. While you clearly need to be able to house, clothe and feed your child, they’ll want to be sure that you can offer love, support, help with homework, all those sorts of things that are harder to measure. 

Other factors that benefit your child can also be considered

Maybe you want to move out of state when you divorce and take your child with you. A court would look at what advantages that will bring to your child – will it gain them access to more support from your family? Will they get a better upbringing because you are moving to take a far better-paid job?

The court will also look at reasons the move will work against your child’s best interests. For example, reducing contact they have with their other parent, taking them away from loving grandparents on the other side of the family, disrupting their education or causing them to lose contact with local friends.

Getting legal help to learn more about what constitutes a child’s best interests can help you set realistic expectations when entering custody negotiations. That too will be in your child’s best interests, as the last thing they need is their parents fighting over access to them.