Understanding The “Child’s Best Interest” Test In Custody And Divorce Proceedings

As a parent, it is your job to always have your child’s best interest at heart. During a divorce, however, parents can develop competing perspectives on what is best for their child. They may differ on where a child should live, how often he or she should visit with parents, and how he or she should be raised. This is where a court’s determination of “child’s best interest” comes into play.

The Best Interest of the Child Standard

In divorce and custody disputes, courts are often required to make significant decisions about a child’s life, including who will be a primary guardian, where a child will live, and what type of support the child will receive. In Washington, these decisions are governed by what is in the “best interests of the child.”

While this standard sounds great, in practice it can be difficult to define. In determining what constitutes the best interest of the child, Washington courts start from three basic presumptions.

  • First – a child’s best interests are best accomplished when a child has the support and involvement of both parents.
  • Second – a child’s best interests usually requires the input and decision-making of both parents.
  • Third – a child’s best interest requires support of the child’s emotional health and growth, and a child’s physical care.

Factors Considered In Determining This Standard

Figuring out what is in a child’s best interest can require consideration of many different factors. Indeed, the Washington courts have explicitly identified a variety of factors to be considered in making a determination. These include:

  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • The child’s historical relationship with each parent
  • Where the child has lived and/or gone to school previously
  • Each parent’s interest in and ability to raise the child
  • The particular wishes of the child
  • Any past issues of abuse or violence with either parent
  • Relationships with siblings, extended family members, or other important individuals
  • The wishes of the parents

How To Use This Standard To Your Benefit

It can be a scary feeling to think that the well-being of your family, including your child, is up to an impartial judge. One way to avoid this feeling of uncertainty or loss of control, is to work with your ex-spouse to develop proposed custody and parenting plans that accommodate the interests of everyone involved.

You and your ex-spouse may disagree about many things. But if you can reach an agreement that allows both of you to be involved in your child’s life, share the burden and joy of raising a child, and respect the wishes of your child – many judges will be amenable to adopting such an approach, rather than creating a new arrangement from scratch.

Let the Family Law Attorneys at Bolan Law Group., Work With You to Promote Your Child’s Best Interest

Whether you are trying to reach an amicable parenting agreement or gearing up for a protracted custody battle, an experienced family law attorney can help you best protect the interests of your child. The child custody attorneys at Bolan Law Group., have experience assisting parents in everything from contentious custody litigation to amicable mediations. For more information contact us online or at (253) 470-2356.

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