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Why do courts focus on the "best interests of the child"?

While there may seem to be countless decisions to be made during the process of a divorce, such as property division and alimony or spousal support, when there are children involved from the marriage, the decisions may be even more complicated. The courts will need to look at the family and make decisions regarding child support and child custody, which may also affect other decisions that are made.

During this process, it is not uncommon to hear about the courts and their efforts to protect "the best interests of the child." What does this mean and how is this determined? In order to minimize the potential impact a divorce may have on a child, the courts will look at the relationship between the child or children and each parent.

They do this to try to determine who the primary caretaker is for the child; this person is more likely to become the custodial parent, unless both parents can show a willingness to work together towards a joint custody ruling. The courts will look at each parent's physical health and mental well-being. They will also look to see if either parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or a history of domestic violence. They may also even ask the children about the relationship they share with each parent.

While the courts take many factors into consideration while making decisions regarding child custody, they want to make certain that a child is not negatively impacted by a divorce. This may mean that decisions are made to minimize the changes in a child's life, including decisions such as property division. It is not uncommon for a custodial parent to be given priority when it comes to keeping a home. This will allow the child or children to stay in the home where they are most comfortable.

Source: Findlaw, "Focusing on the 'Best Interests' of the Child," Accessed Aug. 7, 2017

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