In family law, the child's best interest is always a primary concern when deciding custody and visitation. But what does that actually mean? How does the court determine what’s in a child’s best interest?
Factors Contributing to a Child’s Best Interest
There are several factors that the court will consider when deciding what’s in a child’s best interest. Some of those factors include:
-The child’s age
-The child’s health
-The child’s relationships with siblings, parents, and other significant adults
-The child’s ability to adjust to new situations
-The child’s school performance
-The child’s religious upbringing
The court may consider all of the above factors when deciding what’s in a child’s best interest. They will also look at other relevant factors that may be unique to the situation.
In some cases, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the child’s best interest. The GAL is a neutral third party who will investigate the child’s home life and make recommendations to the court about what they believe is in the child’s best interest.
Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
If the court finds it appropriate, they may appoint a guardian ad litem, a legal advocate representing the child's best interest. The GAL may interview the child, the parents, and any other significant adults in the child's life, such as teachers, coaches, or extended family members. They may also review any relevant school and medical records. Based on this investigation, the GAL can recommend to the court what custody arrangement would be in the child's best interest.
Deciding on a Child’s Best Interests
Ultimately, the court will decide what's in a child's best interest after all consideration. They will consider all relevant factors and any investigation completed by a GAL and make a custody arrangement that they believe is best.
In general, the court will try to make a decision that will allow the child to have stability and continuity in their life. They will also try to make a decision to promote healthy relationships between the child and both parents.
Of course, every family is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to what’s in a child’s best interest. But understanding the factors that the court will consider can help you better advocate for what you believe is in your child’s best interest.
Do you have more questions about the child's best interest in family law? Contact us today at (909) 726-7112. We look forward to hearing from you.