Child custody determination is based on several factors. One of those factors is the best interests of the child. In any court proceeding, particularly divorce and child custody, the concept of "best interests of the child" affects the court's decision regarding who will obtain custody of the child, where that child will live permanently and the child's safety. The best interests of the child are also a factor in a situation where the court must consider terminating a parent's rights.
According to ChildWelfare.gov, there is no standard definition of the best interests of the child. The term usually refers to the different considerations that the court undertakes in making decisions about the well-being of a child. This includes various factors, including child custody circumstances, the person who is most fit and suitable to take care of the child and the capability of that parent. The best interests of the child also include a safe and healthy environment in which that child can live.
There are approximately 21 states and the District of Columbia that have passed statutes that specifically focus on determining the best interests of the child. However, the statutes vary considerably from state to state. Emotional ties, the relationship between the child and the parent, and the relationship of other family members to the child are also taken into consideration. The ability of the parent to provide for the basic needs of the child and that parent's ability to provide a safe home are also included. The mental and physical health of the child is also deemed important as well as the presence of domestic violence in the parent's home.
In Colorado, the General Assembly announced that determining the best interests of the child is critical in preserving and strengthening family ties. It also helps the court to identify the best course of action in placing the child in a safe home environment. Any decision that will greatly impact the well-being of a child should be guided by the established statutes concerning the best interests of the child in order to avoid further legal consequences.
Source: Childwelfare.gov, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child," Accessed July 25, 2014