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How does the court determine what is in the best interests of the child?

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Child Custody Plans

Child custody cases can be highly contested and complex. Generally, most parents have the best interests of the child at heart. However, they may have different ideas about what is in the best interests of the child. 

When parents cannot agree on a suitable custody arrangement, the family court will step in. Again, the court’s priority will be to set out a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. What factors do the court consider before coming to a ruling?

There are several factors to be considered 

There is no single legal definition of what the best interests of the child are. Every case is unique and different children have different needs. Nonetheless, there are several aspects that the court will consider carefully. These include: 

  • The child’s preferences. In some cases, particularly when the child is over the age of 12, the court will consider their preferences. This will largely depend on the level of maturity of the child and the final decision still ultimately rests with the court. 
  • The routine of the child. The family court understands the importance of stability in the child’s life. The courts are unlikely to come to decisions that disrupt the child’s life and risk instability. A custody arrangement that allows the child to attend the same school, keep the same routines and friends groups will likely be preferred. 
  • The age of the child. Children of different ages have different needs. For example, an infant requires more hands-on parenting and they have yet to develop independence. The court will consider which parent has already been providing this hands-on care. 
  • The safety of the child. Safety and security is paramount in all child custody cases. If there are any potential safety risks to the child, the court will factor these into custody rulings.  

Custody cases can be complex. To navigate your case effectively, it will be beneficial to have legal guidance on your side.