Call us:416-218-8888

How the Best Interests of the Child Are Determined for a Child Custody Agreement

When it comes to child custody hearings and cases, no two are the same. However, the processes the courts use to determine the child's best interest in any given situation are very similar. First, you must understand the meaning of the phrase "best interests", and then understand how the courts determine what those best interests really are.

What Are the "Best Interests" of a Child?

When discussing child custody, the best interests of a child are those that focus on encouraging and fostering the child's development, health, and sense of security until they become adults. Most courts attempt to focus on the general belief that it is best to maintain a close, loving relationship with both of their parents. They believe, as do child psychologists and other professionals, that children thrive when they have ample time with both parents. However, not all situations facilitate this, and dealing with practicalities is often difficult.

The Parents' Role

The most important thing that both parents can do throughout a child custody hearing is to keep the best interests of their children in mind. Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of making requests based on their own personal wishes. As an example, a mother may fight the father for custody even though she cannot provide the emotional and financial stability that is in the best interests of the child. Furthermore, a father may fight a mother for custody out of anger despite his inability to provide the right level of care. These things can and do happen, so courts must remain vigilant in determining what is best for the child.

Factors Used by the Court to Determine a Child's Best Interests

Courts will consider a number of factors when it comes to determining what is actually best for that child. These factors include things like:

  • The child's wishes if he or she can reasonably express a preference
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • The child's current adjustment to school
  • The support of the extended family
  • Financial stability
  • Religious and cultural factors
  • Past histories of drug and/or alcohol use and abuse
  • Histories of physical or emotional abuse; excessive disciplinary measures
  • The child's siblings, their wishes, and their unique situations

The Role of the Family Lawyer

Any time there is a disagreement in terms of child custody, a family lawyer is your biggest advocate. These individuals can help you prove your ability to provide for your child's best interests when your spouse is in disagreement. What's more, the laws governing child visitation, custody, and support continuously change. As such, you need someone on your side who fully understands those laws and how they can affect your case. Your lawyer acts as a mediator between you and your spouse, too, which may help you come to an agreement outside of court.

No matter the reasons for your separation from your partner or spouse, you should always keep the best interests of your children in mind when it comes to determining custody, support, and visitation arrangements. The right decisions at the right times can help your children grow into physically and emotionally healthy responsible adults.