What are the best interests of a child?
When a judge is tasked with the decision of determining child custody and/or visitation schedules, the first item he or she will take into consideration is commonly known as the child’s “best interests.” This is an all-encompassing term, which includes all aspects of a child’s well-being.
The State of Illinois defines best interest in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, Section 602.7. Custody decisions, especially modifications after divorce, are not made nor taken lightly. Every state has its own strict guidelines in place.
A child’s best interest will take many things into account. One of those, and the most important, is the child’s safety. What kind of environment would they be living in? Are there many people in and out of the residence? Is there illegal drug use, or alcoholism? Abuse? Is the residence clean with consistent power, heat and water? These are just a few of the questions to consider when taking safety into account.
Another consideration would be stability. How far away is the residence from the child’s other custodial parent? Would the child be able to remain in his or her current school system? Is the child involved in extracurricular activities outside of school and would this move affect those?
These are just a few of the many examples of what could constitute the best interests of the child. In a layman’s definition, it is this… The child’s well-being comes before the parent. Therefore, their mental, physical and emotional states must be protected and placed where they can be nurtured. Custody will be decided based on what is best for the child, not what is most convenient for the parent. An experienced child custody attorney will be able to easily prove these best interests in a courtroom and may be the most valuable asset to presenting a convincing custody case.