What Is Meant by “the Best Interests of the Child?”

In a lot of divorce cases, courts have to make decisions that affect children, for example, custody determinations in divorce proceedings and termination of parental rights. These decisions must be done in the best interests of the child.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, “the best interests of the child” refers to the discretion of courts when deciding what is best for a child and who is best suited to take care of a child. Courts have to consider a number of factors when they decide what is best for a child such as “the circumstances of the child and the circumstances and capacity of the child's caregiver(s).” The child's well-being is always considered as the most important thing.

In Illinois law, there are many factors that are taken into account whenever determining a child's ‘best interests,’ including the following:

  • The physical safety and welfare of the child, including food, shelter, health, and clothing
  • The development of the child's identity
  • The child's background and ties, including familial, cultural, and religious
  • The child's wishes and long-term goals
  • The child's community ties, including church, school, and friends
  • The child's need for permanence, which includes the child's need for stability and continuity of relationships with parent figures, siblings, and other relatives
  • The uniqueness of every family and child
  • The preferences of the persons available to care for the child

Determining child custody matters can be excruciatingly difficult for divorcing couples and their children. These matters are best handled by compassionate and effective attorneys who will defend you and your child’s rights vehemently. Contact an experienced family law attorney in Illinois at your earliest convenience.

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