Child custody matters can bring out a lot of emotion. In some situations, parents will use their children as a bargaining tool or try to use them to punish the other parent. Things can easily get out of hand, with parents only thinking of their needs.
To ensure that the outcome of any child custody decision is beneficial to the children, the state uses a best interest standard.
The best interest standard simply means that the court will always consider what is most beneficial to the children. The court looks at each parent, including their housing, income, attitude and willingness to compromise, but it will also look at the interaction and relationship that parent has with the children.
What is best
In general, the state considers what is best for the children to be what will put them in a situation where they receive proper care and love. The court also thinks about where the children will be the happiest. This might include consulting with the children.
Situations that may not be best would be where a parent does not have stable housing or has some type of addiction or untreated mental illness. In those cases, the children may be in danger if they are with that parent until the parent seeks help. The court will also not want to restrict the time the children have with each parent, so the best interest also means trying to find a balanced decision where the children can have adequate time with each parent.
Developing solid, healthy relationships with both parents is always in a child’s best interest, but to do this requires parents who are willing and able to offer care and love to the child. That is at the heart of all custody decisions the court makes.