What Does “Best Interests” Mean? – Stauff & Gross Law

If you are involved in a custody case, you have probably heard the phrase “best interests of the child” tossed around. So just what is “best interests of the child?” The phrase is the legal standard for deciding custody cases. This means it is what the judge looks at when deciding who your kids will live with and who gets to make decisions about them. As it is such an important part of a custody case, it is helpful for parents to have an understanding of what the phrase means.

The simple answer is it can mean anything and everything that affects what is best for your child(ren). Specifically, the judge will look at anything that affects emotional, physical, educational, and spiritual growth. Judges normally start with the premise that both parents are fit to care for their children equally and to make decisions about them together. Unfortunately, both parents do not always make decisions that are in the children’s best interest. When this happens, it is important for the judge to hear the evidence showing how the children are affected.

For example, if your child appears to be having problems in school after visiting with one particular parent, this evidence is important for the judge to hear to assess if that parent is the cause of the child’s problems in school. This example could affect how much physical time your child or children spend with each parent.

Communication between the parents is also important in determining what is in the best interests of your child or children. For example, if one parent is not responding to the other parent or not keeping the other parent informed, this lack of communication could affect the non-communicating parent’s ability to make decisions for your child or children.

As the best interests of the child is such as broad standard and unique to each case, it is important that to consult with experienced attorney when preparing for any custody hearing. If you have questions and would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us at 919-576-7550.