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What does "the best interests of the child" mean?

While going through the court system in a divorce, you may hear that the court's decisions are done in an effort to protect the 'best interests of the child.' But what exactly does that mean?

All parents want their children to grow up in a healthy and happy environment. Unfortunately, if a couple with children is going through a divorce, the living situation may be less than ideal. Even if a couple is unhappily married and about to go through a divorce, the negative feelings might be noticeable to the children. Even if arguments between parents are mostly kept out of sight or sound from the children, they will likely notice the change in the relationship between their parents.

Since change is inevitable in a divorce, the court's primary focus is to minimize any negative impact it may have on the children. This means the courts will look at all aspects of the children's lives and make decisions that will best protect the child's living arrangements and environment.

When making their decision on child custody, there are several factors that will be taken into consideration. They will look at who is the primary caregiver of the child. This means the person who does a majority of the interactions with the children on a daily basis. This could include preparing meals, showers or baths, changing diapers and clothing, running errands together and even doing homework. Depending on the age of the child, they may even ask for the child's opinion regarding their relationship with each parent.

During a divorce and child custody proceedings, your soon to be ex-spouse will likely have a strong team on their side to fight for them and their beliefs and wishes. You owe it to yourself and the best interests of your children to do the same.

Source:, "Focusing on the 'Best Interests' of the Child," Accessed June 26, 2017

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