When we talk about legal issues that involve children, we often use the phrase “best interests of the child.” If you are a parent in Florida confronted with issues related child custody, child support or visitation, you are likely quite used to hearing this phrase as well.
However, there can be some confusion when it comes to the legal use of that phrase and a parent or guardian’s understanding of it. In this post, we will examine this term in an effort to help you appreciate how it might be different from how you understand it.
It can be difficult to see the difference between a parent doing what’s best for a child and the legal concept of a child’s best interests, so let’s imagine a scenario involving a divorcing father seeking custody. He might think that his child is better off with him because he lives closer to the school, is more disciplined and can provide nicer things than the child’s mother. To him, these offerings can be more beneficial to the child.
However, the courts will also look at the child’s relationship with the mother, who might be more free-spirited and less regimented. She might not serve healthy lunches all the time or make sure homework is done every day, but she may spend meal time and after school engaging with the child and learning more about him or her. The mother may think her care is of more benefit to the child.
In most situations, the courts would see these two parents and determine that it is in the best interests of the child to have a relationship and ongoing contact with both parents. With both Mom and Dad, the child is loved, safe, supported and encouraged, even if it is exhibited in different ways.
You may find that what you and the courts are on the same page when it comes to assessing the best interests of a child, which can make any legal matter easier to resolve. However, if you disagree or are fearful that the courts will misconstrue certain factors affecting child custody or support, it will be crucial to have the support and representation of an attorney by your side.