The “Best Interests of the Child” Standard
Child custody questions may arise out of divorces, paternity suits, or later issues if a parent’s capabilities are questioned or a parent wishes to modify an existing custody arrangement. Courts will make child custody decisions based on what is in the “best interest of the child.”
What factors does a court consider?
Washington law requires that courts use the best interests of the child standard in making parenting determinations, however the law is not very specific in setting out particular factors that should be considered in deciding exactly what arrangement is in a child’s best interest. Courts may generally take into consideration any factor they find relevant to the situation.
Some factors that are generally considered include the following:
- Whether the parents can provide proper financial support for the child
- The nature of the child’s relationship with each parent and the ability to continue fostering that relationship
- The geographical location of each parent, the amount of travel that would be necessary, and whether the child would be able to stay in their school and community
- Any history of substance abuse or mental illness
- Any allegations of domestic or sexual abuse
- The ability of the parents to cooperate in sharing time with the child
- Any special needs of the child and the parents’ abilities to provide for them
Again, these are only some examples of factors that may determine the best interests of the child when it comes to custody determinations. Courts do aim to maintain the child’s relationship with both parents whenever possible unless there is a possibility of physical, emotional, or mental harm.
Contact an experienced family law attorney for help today
Family law cases involve unique laws and legal standards that can be different from state to state. Custody is perhaps one of the most important issues that can arise in family court, as such determinations can substantially affect your relationship with your child. If you ever have a custody matter, it is imperative to have quality representation by a skilled family law attorney who understands Washington family laws.
PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL THE SEATTLE OR TACOMA OFFICE OF THE DICKSON LAW GROUP AT (206) 621-1110 OR (253) 572-1000 FOR FREE, 15-MINUTE PHONE CONSULTATION TODAY.