Best Interest of the Child
The paramount consideration in any child custody determination, i.e., in the initial setting of custody or actions to change custody, is the best interest of the child. When determining the best interest of the child, the court will consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:
- The potential for the child to be abused.
- The relationships between the parents and the child.
- The willingness and ability of the parents to provide the child with love, affection, education, and guidance.
- The willingness and ability of each parent to provide the child medical care and material needs.
- The child’s home environment with each parent.
- Any history of substance abuse, violence, or criminal activity.
- The parents’ mental and physical health.
- The child’s home, school, and community background.
- The child’s preference if of sufficient age and maturity.
- The extent to which each parent will foster a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.
- The distance between the parents’ homes.
- Prior caregiving responsibilities.
This list is illustrative and is used as a guide for child custody determinations. The best interest analysis is intricate, complex, and difficult to apply. It requires a fact-intensive examination that weighs and balances the different factors listed above, based on the evidence presented.
An experienced family law practitioner will be able to discern the specific factors relevant to your case and discuss how they may apply. At Southern Oaks Law Firm, we take the time to fully understand the facts of your case and work with you to obtain the best possible result under the law and in accordance with the best interest of your child or children.