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The Divorce Encyclopedia
Best Interest of the Child


Term Definition Best Interest of the Child - a discretionary and foremost legal standard that pertains to support, visitation and custody.
Application in Divorce Almost all child custody orders are based on what is called "the best interests of the child" standard. The court will use this statement over and over again to a emphasize to the parents the goals and positions it stands behind when making any decision regarding the child(ren).

Here is a list of a Children’s Rights Bill of Rights, which are considered in all custody decisions in the best interest of the children:

> a continuing relationship with both parents.
> being seen not as a piece of property, but as a human being recognized to have unique feelings, ideas, and desires consistent with that of an individual.
> continuing care and proper guidance from each parent.
> not to be unduly influenced by either parent to view the other parent differently.
> expressed love, friendship, and respect for both parents: freedom from having to hide those stated emotions or made to be ashamed of such.
> an explanation that the impending action of divorce was in no way caused by the child’s actions.
> not being the subject and/or source of any and all arguments.
> continuing, honest feedback with respect to the divorce process and its impact on the changing relationships of the family.
> maintenance of regular contact with both parents and a clear explanation for any change in plans and/or cancellations.
> enjoyment of a pleasurable relationship with both parents, never to be employed as a manipulative bargaining tool.

The obligation of being a parent does not end after a divorce. Failure to realize this is a very common social problem in today’s society: as a dissolution of marriage takes place, so does the parenting. To avoid difficulty in sharing parenthood after a divorce, parents should try to follow these basic rules:

> Address situations with business-like behavior. If at any time a conversation becomes a little too personal, it might be wise to continue it on a later date.
> Respect and encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent.
> Schedule regular appointments with the ex-spouse to discuss parenting issues.
> Make no assumptions on past behavior.
> Attempt to express and/or show appreciation towards one another as even the simplest comment or action can create a stronger and more effective partnership.
> Never intentionally break or skip appointments. If one can’t be kept, be immediately forthright and honest.
> Do not make individual decisions.
> Be open minded.
> Remember the goals and recognize the benefits as they arise.

See also Tender Years; Preference (Child’s).

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