The Best Interests of the Child Standard
If you and your child’s other parent are legally separating, divorcing, or otherwise splitting from each other in a romantic way, you may or may not already know how you’re going to divide parental responsibilities moving forward. If you and your child’s other parent are in agreement about how custody should be divided and how your parental responsibilities will be split, an experienced family law attorney can help you to formalize your approach.
If, however, you either disagree about how your parental divisions should be structured or you’re unsure of how to go about structuring your child custody and parenting plan arrangements, you’ll need to speak with an attorney about where you are in this process. At that time, you’ll be able to craft a sound legal strategy concerning the best way forward. Unless you and your co-parent have already constructed a fully realized co-parenting agreement, you’ll need to spend some time considering “the best interests of the child standard.”
What Is This Standard and Why Does It Matter?
The best interests of the child standard is the legal “test” by which all disputed child custody and parenting plan arrangements must be resolved. Essentially, if a child’s parents can’t resolve their differences without judicial intervention, a judge assigned to a child custody or parenting plan dispute will resolve the matter based on whatever that judge believes to be in the affected child’s best interests. It is best to avoid judicial intervention in most cases, as parents—very understandably—prefer to control the outcome of their child custody and parenting plan disputes rather than leaving their child’s fate in the hands of a judge.
With that said, it isn’t always possible to resolve differences between co-parents via mediation or attorney-led negotiations. Even the most well-meaning parents can find themselves at an impasse. As an experienced family lawyer – including those who practice at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright – can confirm, it is a good idea to prepare for a potential impasse even if you don’t expect to encounter one. Meaning, that it is a good idea to structure your child custody discussions and parenting plan drafting sessions with your child’s best interests in mind right from the start. That way, if you find yourself at an impasse with your co-parent, the foundation of your approach will already be in a strong position to be favorably considered by a judge in the event that one needs to intervene.