What are the best interests of the child?

| Jan 18, 2021 | Child Custody |

Divorce is painful for everyone involved, but for the children it can be especially traumatizing. But because the fundamental differences that eventually pull a couple apart can create tension in the family for years, divorce often ends up being the right decision for everyone.

Determining what is in the best interest of the child in granting custody, childcare and visitation rights is the role of the judge, who will look at a number of factors in making a decision. In situations where there has been domestic violence, the judge will most likely not be inclined to grant sole or joint legal custody to the abusive parent.

Where did the “best interest of the child” standard come from?

In 1989, the United Nations ratified a treaty that created a legal framework defining children as human beings and individuals in their own rights, not the property of their parents. The Convention on the Rights of the Child created a standard in Article 3, as summarized by Child Rights International Network (CRIN):

Children’s interests should be at the forefront of all decisions that affect them in every situation: adoption, detention, custody disputes between parents—everything.

In divorce cases, every state has since adopted variations of the “best interest of the child” standard in deciding disputed custody cases.

How does custody work in Mississippi?

The two types of custody that are recognized in Mississippi are physical and legal custody, which can either be sole or joint. Physical custody refers to the contact with and care of the child, and the responsibility the parent has to the child when he or she is in their care. Legal custody concerns the decisions made on behalf of the child regarding welfare, health and education.

The judge will apply a standard of what is in the best interest of the child in Mississippi in determining custody cases. Some factors he will take into account include:

  • Child’s age, health and sex
  • Parent’s most bonded to or who most cared for the child before separation
  • Parent’s ages, mental and physical health
  • Stability of the home environment, school and community
  • Preference of the child if 12 or older

If you are going through divorce, finding an experienced and empathetic family law attorney in the Gulfport area is important in ensuring that you will be able to take care of your children after divorce.