Best Interests of the Child

What Are the “Best Interests of the Child?”

Consult with a Knowledgeable Dutchess County Divorce Lawyer

In family law cases surrounding issues such as child custody, visitation, or juvenile dependency situations, the courts are tasked with making a decision regarding a minor child’s living situation. While these cases are influenced by a number of different factors, a judge’s final decision will always be made in alignment with the “best interests of the child.” In simple terms, this means that a judge’s ruling will be made with the primary concern of fostering a child’s happiness, safety, mental health, and development.

The following factors all come together to determine a child’s best interests:

  • The child’s wishes, if old enough to express a preference
  • The child’s age and gender
  • Any special needs of the child
  • The custodial arrangements of siblings
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The mental health of the parents
  • The physical health of the parents
  • Each parent's financial situation
  • The presence of domestic violence
  • The parents' history of substance abuse

While the courts will generally make an effort to ensure a child maintains a close relationship with both parents, the courts may grant sole custody to one parent if the other parent displays behavior that is deemed detrimental to the child’s wellbeing. Similarly, in instances of juvenile dependency, the courts may remove a child from their parents’ care in the event that the parents are unable to provide suitable care for their child.

Can a Child’s Best Interests Change?

A child’s best interests can change over time. While basic necessities for safety, food, water, and shelter will remain unchanged, emotional, medical, or academic needs will likely change as a child ages. While these changes can be important, the courts will generally not grant parents a modification to their custody order unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the order was first created.

Substantial changes that can affect your child’s wellbeing include:

  • Severe bullying
  • New medical diagnoses
  • Major struggles in school

Even though the custodial parent may have done nothing wrong, the courts may decide that the child’s needs would be better met if they lived with the other parent.

Powerful Family Law Advocacy in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster & Westchester Counties

If you are involved in any sort of legal situation regarding the custody of your children, it is imperative you retain the services of a trusted family law attorney to maximize your chances of securing a favorable outcome for your situation. At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, our skilled Dutchess County family lawyers can protect your child’s best interests and fight to help you maintain an active presence in your child’s life. As shown by our various positive client testimonials and our 2015 Avvo Clients’ Choice Award, your case is sure to be in excellent hands.

Schedule a consultation or call (845) 605-4330 today to get started.


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