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What Does “Best Interests of the Child” Really Mean?

What Does Best Interests of the Child Really Mean?It does not matter whether a divorce is amiable or acrimonious; when matters of child custody are at play, emotions can run high. It is natural to want your child with you as much as possible, and it is important to understand how the court determines the best interests of the child.

The “best interests of the child” is the overall priority of the court when making decisions regarding child custody and child support. South Carolina Children’s Code lays out the factors the court should consider when determining the best interests of a child in a child custody dispute.

These include:

·       Child’s temperament and developmental needs

·       Parents’ capacity to understand and meet the child’s needs

·       Child’s preference

·       Parents’ wishes

·       Child’s past and current relationships with parents, siblings, and other family members

·       Actions of each parents to continue the parent/child relationship, including cooperating with court orders

·       Any manipulative or disruptive behavior on the parents’ part

·       Ability of parents to be actively involved in the child’s life

·       Child’s adjustment to home, school, and community life

·       Stability of child’s current and proposed residences

·       Mental and physical health of the child and both parents

·       Child’s cultural and spiritual background

·       Any history of child abuse or neglect in the family

·       Any history of domestic violence in the family

·       Other factors the court deems appropriate and necessary

The ultimate goal of the “best interests of the child” doctrine is to encourage the growth and development of your child so they can thrive and become a well-adjusted adult. The court does not only focus on a few of these factors, but all of them as a whole to ensure your child is in the best possible environment.

How do I show the court I have my child’s best interests in mind?

You can help prove to the court you have your child’s best interests at heart by showing you play an active, responsible, and loving role in their life. Examples of this can include showing that you have enrolled them in school, sports, extracurriculars, and other important parenting decisions that show you are nurturing your child.

If you and your spouse both want custody, it is important to show you have good communication with each other and will be able to maintain a working relationship where your kids are concerned. In most situations, barring violence or substance abuse, the courts favor custody arrangements where both parents have time with their child.

You may also choose to try mediation or collaborative law when facing a child custody dispute in your divorce.

At Holland Law, we provide informed guidance and advocacy during the divorce process. We can help protect the best interests of your family. We serve clients in York, Lancaster, and Chester Counties. Call today to schedule a consultation in our Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or in our Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue at 803-219-2630, or reach out through our contact page.