If you’re separating or divorcing, the courts base many of their decisions on what’s in the best interests of the children. While some cases involving abuse or neglect, are clear, some are not so simple. Both parents want what’s best for the kids, but many disagree on what that actually is. Of course, this applies to both same-sex parents and traditional parent arrangements.
This can be a pretty major hurdle to overcome. Issues such as custody, access and support can really become sticking points between parents. When each parent explores what the court sees as the best interests of the child, they can begin to negotiate a parenting plan and custody arrangement that meets the child’s needs first.
What is the Best Interests of the Child Checklist?
The Best Interests of the Child is a standard that the courts use to determine what’s best for the kids when parents are disputing issues such as custody, access, support, special expenses, etc. Rarely do parents go to court over disputes, but when they do, the judge will look at family relationships, primary caretaking responsibilities, cultural and religious relationships, special needs, and such to make his or her ruling.
How to Use the Best Interests of the Child Checklist
Write down your answers to the questions, and invite your spouse to do the same. It’s likely you both have issues that you can agree upon, and this is a good place to start negotiation.
Not only should you consider your own relationship with your child, but also relationships with extended family on both sides, your church or cultural community, as well as maintaining your child’s access to trusted healthcare providers and their school.
If you’re having difficulty answering the questions presented, you can always seek the help of a family counselor, therapist, even clergy or a trusted friend.
When you’ve finished the hard work of completing the questionnaire, the next step is to review it with your lawyer, and use it as a guide for your decision-making throughout the process of separation and divorce.
It’s tough to take an objective look at things, especially when you’re emotional and want to protect your child. But with less spite between you and your ex and a caring approach to their needs, your child will suffer less from the impact of your separation.